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VOL. I. 


















Hebrews xii. 14. 


Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord I 



Matt. xvi. 26. 

What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 17 



John xiii. 17- 
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them .... 3 1 



Psalm xix. 12- 


Who can understand His errors ? Cleanse Thou rae from secret 
faults 47 



Romans xiii. 11. 
Now is it high time to awake out of sleep 65 


1 CoR. iv. 20. 
Thfe kingdom of God is not in word, but in power 83 


Hebuews X. 22. 

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, 
having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our 
bodies washed with pure water 96 


god's commandments not grievous. 

1 John v. 3. 


This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments ; and 
His commandments are not grievous 112 


the religious use of excited feelings. 

Luke viii. 38, 39. 

The man out of whom the Devils were departed, besought Him 
that he might be with Him ; but Jesus sent him away, saying. 
Return to thine own house, and show how great things God 
hath done unto thee 130 

profession without practice. 

LxjKE xii. 1. 

When there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of 
people, insomuch that they trode one upon another. He began 
to say unto His disciples first of all. Beware ye of the leaven 
of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy 144 




Galatians iii. 27. 


As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on 
Christ I6l 



Matthew v. 14. 

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill 
cannot be hid 176 



Matthew xxi. 28 — 30. 

A certain man had two sons ; and he came to the first, and said. 
Son, go work to-day in my vineyard. He answered and said, 
I will not : but afterwards he repented and went. And he 
came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and 
said, I go. Sir, and went not 191 



Mark xiv. 31. 


But he spake the more vehemently. If I should die with Thee 
I will not deny Thee in any wise 205 



Romans iv. 20, 21. 

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; 
but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being 
fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able also 
to perform 219 



John iii. 9. 
How can these things be ? 234 



1 Cor. iii. 18, 19. 

liCt no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth 
to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may 
be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with 
God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own 
craftiness 248 




Psalm xxxvii. 34. 


Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee 
to inherit the land 264 



Matthew vi. 6. 

Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when 
thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in 
secret ; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward 
thee openly 282 



Luke xi. 1. 
Lord teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples . . . 298 



Luke xx. 37, 38. 

Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, 
when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God 
of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For He is not a God of the 
dead, but of the living ; for all live unto Him 314 



Acts x. 40, 41. 


Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly ; not 
to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, 
even to us who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from 
the dead 326 



Psalm ii. 11. 
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling .... 341 



Hebkews xii. 28, 29. 

Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with 
reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming 
fire 357 



John v. 2, 3. 

There is at Jerusalem by the sheepmarket a pool, which is called 
in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In 
these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, 
withered, waiting for the moving of the water 376 




1 Cor. xiii. 11. 

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, 

I thought as a child ; but when I became a man I put away 

childish things 389 



Hebrews xii. 14. 
" Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." 

In this text it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit 
to convey a chief truth of religion in a few words. 
It is this circumstance which makes it especially 
impressive ; for the truth itself is declared in one 
form or other in every part of Scripture. It is 
told us again and again, that to make sinful crea- 
tures holy was the great end which our Lord had in 
view in taking upon Him our nature, and thus none 
but the holy will be accepted for His sake at the 
last day. The whole history of redemption, the 
covenant of mercy in all its parts and provisions, 
attest the necessity of holiness in order to salvation ; 
as indeed even our natural conscience bears witness 
also. But in the text what is elsewhere implied 
in history, and enjoined by precept, is stated doc- 

VOL. I. B 


trinally, as a momentous and necessary fact, the 
result of some awful irreversible law in the nature 
of things, and the inscrutable determination of the 
Divine Will. 

Now, some one may ask, "Why is it that 
holiness is a necessary qualiiScation for our being 
received into Heaven? why is it that the Bible 
enjoins upon us so strictly to love, fear, and obey 
God, to be just, honest, meek, pure in heart, for- 
giving, heavenly-minded, self-denying, humble, and 
resigned ? Man is confessedly weak and corrupt ; 
why then is he enjoined to be so religious, so 
unearthly? why is he required (in the strong 
language of Scripture) to become a new creature ? 
Since he is by nature what he is, would it not 
be an act of greater mercy in God to save him 
altogether without this holiness, which it is so 
difficult, yet (as it appears) so necessary for him to 
possess ? " 

Now, we have no right to ask this question. 
Surely it is quite enough for a sinner to know, that 
a way has been opened through God's grace for 
his salvation, without being informed why that 
way, and not another way was chosen by Divine 
Wisdom. Eternal life is " the gift of God." Un- 
doubtedly He may prescribe the terms on which 
He will give it ; and if He has determined holiness 
to be the way of life, it is enough ; it is not for us 
to inquire why He has so determined. 

Yet the question may be asked reverently, and 


with a view to enlarge our insight into our own 
condition and prospects; and in that case the at- 
tempt to answer it will be profitable, if it be made 
soberly. I proceed, therefore, to state one of the 
reasons assigned in Scripture, why present holiness 
is necessary, as the text declares to us, for future 

To be holy is, in our Church's words, to have 
" the true circumcision of the Spirit ; " that is, to 
be separate from sin, to hate the works of the world, 
the flesh, and the devil ; to take pleasure in keep- 
ing God's commandments; to do things as He 
would have us do them ; to live habitually as in the 
sight of the world to come, as if we had broken 
the ties of this life, and were dead already. Why 
cannot we be saved without possessing such a frame 
and temper of mind ? 

I answer as follows : That, even supposing a man 
of unholy life were suffered to enter Heaven, he 
would not be happy there; so that it would be no 
mercy to permit him to enter. 

We are apt to deceive ourselves, and to consider 
Heaven a place like this earth ; I mean, a place 
where every one may choose and take his own 
pleasure. We see that in this world, active men 
have their own enjoyments, and domestic men 
have theirs ; men of literature, of science, of po- 
litical talent, have their respective pursuits and 
pleasures. Hence we are led to act as if it will be 
the same in another world. The only difference 

B 2 


we put between this world and the next is, that 
here (as we know well), men are not always sure, 
but there, we suppose they will he always sure, of 
obtaining what they seek after. And accordingly 
we conclude, that any man, whatever his habits, 
tastes, or manner of life, if once admitted into 
Heaven, would be happy there. Not that we al- 
together deny, that some preparation is necessary 
for the next world; but we do not estimate its 
real extent and importance. We think we can 
reconcile ourselves to God when we will ; as if 
nothing were required in the case of men in general, 
but some temporary attention, more than ordinary, 
to our religious duties, — some strictness, during our 
last sickness, to the services of the Church, as 
men of business arrange their letters and papers 
on taking a journey or balancing an account. But 
an opinion like this, though commonly acted 
on, is refuted as soon as put into words. For 
Heaven, it is plain from Scripture, is not a place 
where" many different and discordant pursuits can 
be carried on at once, as is the case in this world. 
Here every man can do his own pleasure, but 
there he must do God^s pleasure. It would be 
presumption to attempt to determine the em- 
ployments of that eternal life, which good men 
are to pass in God's presence, or to deny that 
that state which eye hath not seen, nor ear 
heard, nor mind conceived, may comprise an in- 
finite variety of pursuits and occupations. Still 


SO far we are distinctly told, that that future life 
will be spent in God's presence, in a sense which 
does not apply to our present life; so that it may 
be best described as an endless and uninterrupted 
worship of the Eternal Father, Son, and Spirit. 
" They serve him day and night in his temple, 
and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell 
among them .... The Lamb which is in the 
midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead 
theui unto living fountains of waters." Again, 
" The city had no need of the sun, neither of the 
moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did 
lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And 
the nations of them which are saved shall walk in 
the light of it, and the kings of the earth do bring 
their glory and honour into it '." These passages 
from St. John are sufficient to remind us of many 

Heaven, then, is not like this world ; I will say 
what it is much more like, — a church. For in a 
place of public worship no language of this world is 
heard; there are no schemes brought forward for 
temporal objects, great or small; no information 
how to strengthen our worldly interests, extend 
our influence, or establish our credit. These 
things indeed may be right in their way, so that 
we do not set our hearts upon them; still (I 
repeat) it is certain that we hear nothing of them 

' Rev. vii. 15, 17; xxi. 23, 24. 


in a church. Here we hear solely and entirely of 
God. We praise Him, worship Him, sing to Him, 
thank Him, confess to Him, give ourselves up to 
Him, and ask His blessing. And therefore, a church 
is like Heaven; viz., because both in the one and 
the other, there is one single sovereign subject — 
religion — brought before us. 

Supposing, then, instead of it being said that 
no irreligious man could serve and love God in 
Heaven, (or see Him, as the text expresses it,) we 
were told that no irreligious man could worship, or 
spiritually see Him in church; should we not at 
once perceive the meaning of the doctrine? viz., 
that, were a man to come hither, who had suffered 
his mind to grow up in its own way, as nature 
or chance determined, without any delibei-ate 
habitual effort after truth and purity, he would 
find no real pleasure here, but would soon get 
weary of the place ; because, in this house of God, 
he would hear only of that one subject which he 
cared little or nothing about, and nothing at all 
of those things which excited his hopes and fears, 
his sympathies and energies. If, then, a man with- 
out religion (supposing it possible) were admitted 
into Heaven, doubtless he would sustain a great 
disappointment. Before, indeed, he fancied that he 
could be happy there; but when he arrived there, 
he would find no discourse but that which he 
had shunned on earth, no pursuits but those 
he had disliked or despised, nothing which bound 


him to aught else in the universe, and made him 
feel at home, nothing which he could enter into and 
rest upon. He would jDerceive himself to be an 
isolated being, cut away by Supreme Power from 
those objects which were still entwined around his 
heart. Nay, he would be in the presence of that 
Supreme Power, whom he never on earth could 
bring himself steadily to think upon, and whom now 
he regarded only as the destroyer of all that was 
precious and dear to him. Ah! he could not bear 
the face of the Living God; the Holy God would 
be no object of joy to him. " Let us alone ! 
What have we to do with thee?" is the sole 
thought and desire of unclean souls, even while 
they acknowledge His majesty. None but the 
holy can look upon the Holy One; without holiness 
no man can endure to see the Lord. 

When, then, we think to take part in the joys of 
Heaven without holiness, we are as inconsiderate 
as if we supposed we could take an interest in the 
worship of Christians here below without possessing 
it in our measure. A careless, a sensual, an un- 
believing mind, a mind destitute of the love 
and fear of God, with narrow views and earthly 
aims, a low standard of duty, and a benighted 
conscience, a mind contented with itself, and 
unresigned to God's will, would not feel pleasure, 
at tlie last day, at the words, " Enter into the joy 
of thy Lord," more than it does now at the words, 
" Let us pray." Nay, much less, because, while 


we are in a church, we may turn our thoughts to 
other subjects, and contrive to forget that God 
is looking on us; but that will not be possible in 

We see, then, that holiness, or inward separa- 
tion from the world, is necessary to our admission 
into Heaven, because Heaven is not Heaven, is 
not a place of happiness except to the holy. There 
are bodily indispositions which affect the taste, 
so that the sweetest flavours become ungrateful 
to the palate; and indispositions which impair 
the sight, tinging the fair face of nature with some 
sickly hue. In like manner, there is a moral 
malady which disorders the inward sight and taste; 
and no man labouring under it is in a condition to 
enjoy what Scripture calls "the fulness of joy 
in God's presence, and pleasures at his right hand 
for evermore." 

Nay, I will venture to say more than this ; — it 
is fearful, but it is right to say it; — that if we 
wished to imagine a punishment for an unholy, 
reprobate soul, we perhaps could not fancy a 
greater than to summon it to Heaven. Heaven 
would be hell to an irreligious man. We know 
how unhappy we are apt to feel at present, when 
alone in the midst of strangers, or of men of differ- 
ent tastes and habits from ourselves. How miser- 
able, for example, would it be to have to live in a 
foreign land, among a people whose faces we never 
saw before, and whose language we could not 


learn. And this is but a faint illustration of the 
loneliness of a man of earthly dispositions and 
tastes, thrust into the society of saints and angels. 
How forlorn would he wander through the courts 
of Heaven ; he would find no one like himself ; 
he would see in every direction the marks of God's 
holiness, and these would make him shudder. 
He would feel himself always in His presence. He 
could no longer turn his thoughts another way, 
as he does now, when conscience reproaches him. 
He would know that the Eternal Eye was ever 
upon him ; and that Eye of holiness, which is joy 
and life to holy creatures, would seem to him 
an Eye of wrath and punishment. God cannot 
change His nature. Holy He must ever be. But 
while He is holy, no unholy soul can be happy in 
Heaven. Fire does not inflame iron, but it inflames 
straw. It would cease to be fire if it did not. And 
so Heaven itself would be fire to those, who would 
fain escape across the great gulf from the torments 
of Hell. The finger of Lazarus would but increase 
their thirst. The very " Heaven that is over their 
head," will be " brass" to them. 
. And now I have partly explained why it is that 
holiness is prescribed to us as the condition on our 
part for our admission into Heaven. It seems to 
be necessary from the very nature of things. We 
do not see how it could be otherwise. — Now then I 
will mention two important truths which seem to 
follow from what has been said. 


1. If a certain character of mind, a certain state 
of the heart and affections be necessary for entering 
Heaven, our actions will avail for our salvation, 
chiefly as they tend to produce or evidence this 
frame of mind. Good works (as they are called) 
are required, not as if they had any thing of merit 
in them, not as if they could of themselves 
turn away God's anger for our sins, or purchase 
Heaven for us, but because they are the means, 
under God's grace, of strengthening and showing 
forth that holy principle which God implants 
in the heart, and without which (as the text tells 
us) we cannot see Him. The more numerous 
are our acts of charity, self-denial, and forbearance, 
of course the more will our minds be schooled into 
a charitable, self-denying, and forbearing temper. 
The more frequent are our prayers, the more 
humble, patient, and religious are our daily deeds, 
this communion with God, these holy works, will 
be the means of making our hearts holy, and of 
preparing us for the future presence of God. 
Outward acts, done on principle, create inward 
habits. I repeat, the separate acts of obedience 
to the will of God, good works as they are called, 
are of service to us, as gradually severing us from 
this world of sense, and impressing our hearts with 
a heavenly character. 

It is plain, then, what works are not of service 
to our salvation ; — all those which either have no 
effect upon the heart to change it, or which have 


a bad effect. What then must be said of those 
who think it an easy thing to please God, and to 
recommend themselves to Him ; who do a few 
scanty services, call these the walk of faith, and 
are satisfied with them ? Such men, it is too evi- 
dent, instead of being themselves profited by their 
acts, such as they are, of benevolence, honesty, or 
justice, may be (I might even say) injured by them. 
For these very acts, even though good in them- 
selves, are made to foster in these persons a bad 
spirit, a corrupt state of heart, viz., self-love, self- 
conceit, self-reliance, instead of tending to turn 
them from this world to the Father of spirits. In 
like manner, the mere outward acts of coming to 
church, and saying prayers, which are, of course, 
duties imperative upon all of us, are really service- 
able to those only who do them in a heavenward 
spirit. Because such men only use these good 
deeds to the improvement of the heart; whereas 
even the most exact outward devotion avails not a 
man, if it does not improve it. 

2. But observe what follows from this. If holi- 
ness be not merely the doing a certain number of 
good actions, but is an inward character which 
follows, under God's grace, from doing them, how 
far distant from that holiness are the multitude of 
men ! They are not yet even obedient in outward 
deeds, which is the first step towards possessing 
it. They have even to learn to practise good 
works, as the means of changing their hearts, 


which is the end. It follows at once, even though 
Scripture did not plainly tell us so, that no one is 
able to prepare himself for heaven, that is, make 
himself holy, in a short time ; — at least we do not 
see how it is possible ; and this, viewed merely as 
a deduction of the reason, is a serious thought. 
Yet, alas ! as there are persons who think to be 
saved by a few scanty performances, so there are 
others who suppose they may be saved all at once 
by a sudden and easily-acquired faith. Most men 
who are living in neglect of God, silence their 
consciences, when troublesome, with the promise 
of repenting some future day. How often are 
they thus led on till death surprises them ! But 
we will suppose they do begin to repent when that 
future day comes. Nay, we will even suppose 
that Almighty God were to forgive them, and to 
admit them in His holy heaven. Well, but is 
nothing more requisite ? are they in a fit state to 
do Him service in heaven ? is not this the very 
point I have been so insisting on, that they are iwt 
in a fit state? has it not been shown that, even if 
admitted there without a change of heart, they 
would find no pleasure in heaven ? and is a change 
of heart wrought in a day? Which of our tastes 
or likings can we change at our will in a moment ? 
Not the most superficial. Can we then at a word 
change the whole frame and character of our 
minds? Is not holiness the result of many patient, 
repeated efforts after obedience, gradually working 


on US, and first modifying and then changing our 
hearts? We dare not, of course, set bounds to 
God's mercy and power in cases of repentance late 
in life, even where He has revealed to us the 
general rule of His moral governance ; yet, surely 
it is our duty ever to keep steadily before us, and 
act upon, those general truths which His Holy 
Word has declared. His Holy Word in various 
ways warns us, that, as no one will find happiness 
in heaven, who is not holy, so no one can learn 
to be so, in a short time, and when he will. It 
implies it in the text, which names a qualification, 
which we know in matter of fact does ordinarily 
take time to gain. It propounds it clearly, though 
in figure, in the parable of the wedding garment, 
in which inward sanctification is made a condition 
distinct from our acceptance of the proffer of 
mercy, and not negligently to be passed over in our 
thoughts as if a necessary consequence of it ; and 
in that of the ten virgins, which shows us that we 
must meet the bridegroom with the oil of holiness, 
and that it takes time to procure it. And it 
solemnly assures us in St. Paul's Epistles, that it is 
possible so to presume on Divine grace, as to let 
slip the accepted time, and be sealed even before 
the end of life to a reprobate mind.' 

I wish to speak to you, my brethren, not as if 
aliens from God's mercies, but as partakers of 

• Heb. vi. 4— G; x. 26- 29. Vid. also 2 Pet. ii. 20. 22. 


His gracious covenant in Christ ; and for this 
reason in especial peril, since those only can incur 
the sin of making void His covenant, who have the 
privilege of it. Yet neither on the other hand do 
I speak to you as wilful and obstinate sinners, ex- 
posed to the imminent risk of forfeiting, or the 
chance of having forfeited, your hope of heaven. 
But I fear there are those, who, if they dealt faith- 
fully with their consciences, would be obliged to 
own that they had not made the service of God 
their first and great concern ; that their obedience, 
so to call it, has been a matter of course, in which 
the heart has had no part ; that they have acted 
uprightly in worldly matters chiefly for the sake of 
their worldly interest. I fear there are those, who, 
whatever be their sense of religion, yet have such 
misgivings about themselves, as lead them to make 
resolve to obey God more exactly some future day, 
such misgivings as convict them of sin, though not 
enough to bring before them its heinousness or its 
peril. Such men are trifling with the appointed 
season of mercy. To obtain the gift of holiness 
is the work of a life. No man will ever be perfect 
here, so sinful is our nature. Thus, in putting off 
the day of repentance, these men are reserving 
for a few chance years, when strength and vigour 
are gone, that work for which a wJiole life would 
not be enough. That work is great and arduous 
beyond expression. There is much of sin remaining 
even in the best of men, and "if the righteous 


scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the 
sinner appear'?" Their doom may be fixed any 
moment ; and though this thought should not make 
a man despair to-day, yet it should ever make him 
tremble for to-morrow. 

Perhaps, however, others may say : — " We know 
something of the power of religion — we love it 
in a measure — we have many right thoughts — 
we come to church to pray; this is a proof that 
we are prepared for heaven : — we are safe, and 
what has been said does not apply to us." But 
be not you, my brethren, in the number of these. 
One principal test of our being true servants of 
God is our wishing to serve Him better ; and be 
quite sure that a man who is contented with his 
own proficiency in Christian holiness, is at best 
in a dark state, or rather in great peril. If we 
are really imbued with the grace of holiness, we 
shall abhor sin as something base, irrational, and 
polluting. Many men, it is true, are contented 
with partial and indistinct views of religion, and 
mixed motives. Be you content with nothing 
short of perfection ; exert yourselves day by day 
to grow in knowledge and grace; that, if so be, 
you may at length attain to the presence of Al- 
mighty God. 

Lastly ; while we thus labour to mould our 
hearts after the pattern of the holiness of our 

* 1 Pet. iv. 18. 


Heavenly Father, it is our comfort to know, what 
I have already implied, that we are not left to 
ourselves, but that the Holy Ghost is graciously 
present with us, and enables us to triumph over, 
and to change our own minds. It is a comfort and 
encouragement, while it is an anxious and awful 
thing, to know that God works in and through us \ 
We are the instruments, but we are only the 
instruments of our own salvation. Let no one 
say that I discourage him, and propose to him 
a task beyond his strength. All of us have the 
gifts of grace pledged to us from our youth up. 
We know this well ; but we do not use our pri- 
vilege. We form mean ideas of the difficulty of 
our duties, and in consequence never enter into 
the greatness of the gifts given us to meet it. 
Then afterwards, if perchance we gain a deeper 
insight into the work we have to do, we think 
God a hard master, who commands much from 
a sinful race. Narrow, indeed, is the way of life, 
but infinite is His love and power who is with the 
Church, in Christ's plaee, to guide us along it. 

• PhiL il 12, 13. 



* Matthew xvi. 26. 

" What shall a man give in exchange for his soul ? " 

I SUPPOSE there is no tolerably informed Christian 
but considers he has a correct notion of the differ- 
ence between our religion and the paganism 
which it supplanted. Every one, if asked what it 
is we have gained by the Gospel, will promptly 
answer, that we have gained the knowledge of our 
immortality, of our having souls which will live for 
ever ; that the heathen did not know this, but that 
Christ taught it, and that His disciples know it. 
Every one will say, and say truly, that this was the 
great and solemn doctrine which gave the Gospel 
a claim to be heard when first preached, which 
arrested the thoughtless multitudes, who were 
busied in the pleasures and pursuits of this life, 
awed them with the vision of the life to come, 
and sobered them till they turned to God with 
a true heart. It will be said, and said truly, 
VOL. I. c 


that this doctrine of a future life was the doc- 
trine which broke the power and the fascination 
of paganism. The poor benighted heathen were 
engaged in all the frivolities and absurdities of 
a false ritual, which had obscured the light of 
nature. They knew God, but they forsook Him 
for the inventions of men; they made protectors 
and guardians for themselves; and had "gods 
many and lords many '." They had their profane 
worship, their gaudy processions, their indulgent 
creed, their easy observances, their sensual fes- 
tivities, their childish extravagances, such as might 
suitably be the religion of beings who were to live 
for seventy or eighty years, and then die once for 
all, never to live again. " Let us eat and drink, 
for to-morrow we die," was their doctrine and 
their rule of life. "To-morrow we die;" — this 
the Holy Apostles admitted. They taught so far 
m the heathen ; " To-morrow we die ;" but then 
they added, "And after death the judgment;'' — 
judgment upon the eternal soul, which lives in 
spite of the death of the body. And this was the 
truth, which awakened men to the necessity of 
having a better and deeper religion than that 
which had spread over the earth, when Christ 
came, — which so wrought upon them that they 
left that old false worship of theirs, and it fell. 
Yes! though throned in all the power of the 

' 1 Cor. viii. 5. 


world, a sight such as eye had never before seen, 
though supported by the great and the many, the 
magnificence of kings and the stubbornness of 
people, it fell. Its ruins remain scattered over the 
face of the earth; the shattered works of its great 
upholder, that fierce enemy of God, the Pagan 
Roman Empire. Those ruins are found even 
among ourselves, and show how marvellously great 
was its power, and therefore how much more 
powerful was that which broke its power; and 
this was the doctrine of the immortality of the 
soul. So entire is the revolution which is produced 
among men, wherever this high truth is really 

I have said that every one of us is able fluently 
to speak of this doctrine, and is aware that the 
knowledge of it forms the fundamental difference 
between our state and that of the heathen. And 
yet, in spite of our being able to speak about it 
and our " form of knowledge \" (as St. Paul terms 
it,) there seems scarcely room to doubt, that the 
greater number of those who are called Christians 
in no true sense realize it in their own minds at 
all. Indeed, it is a very difficult thing to bring 
home to us; and to feel that we have souls; and 
there cannot be a more fatal mistake than to 
suppose we see what the doctrine means, as soon 
as we can use the words which signify it. So 

* Rom. ii. 20. 

c 2 


great a thing is it to understand that we have 
souls, that the knowing it, taken in connexion 
with its results, is all one with being serious, i. e. 
truly religious. To discern our immortality is 
necessarily connected with fear and trembling 
and repentance, in the case of every Christian. 
Who is there but would be sobered by an actual 
sight of the flames of hell fire and the souls 
therein hopelessly enclosed? Would not all his 
thoughts be drawn to that awful sight, so that 
he would stand still gazing fixedly upon it, and 
forgetting every thing else; seeing nothing else, 
hearing nothing, engrossed with the contemplation 
of it ; and when the sight was withdrawn, still 
having it fixed in his memory, so that he would 
be henceforth dead to the pleasures and employ- 
ments of this world, considered in themselves, 
thinking of them only in their reference to that 
fearful vision? This would be the overpowering 
effect of such a disclosure, whether it actually led 
a man to repentance or not. And thus absorbed 
in the thought of the life to come are they who 
really and heartily receive the words of Christ 
and His Apostles. Yet to this state of mind, and 
therefore to this true knowledge, the multitude 
of men called Christians are certainly strangers ; a 
thick veil is drawn over their eyes; and in spite 
of their being able to talk of the doctrine, they 
are as if they never had heard of it. They go on 
just as the heathen did of old : they eat, they 


drink; or they amuse themselves in vanities, and 
live in the world, without fear and without sorrow, 
just as if God had not declared that their conduct 
in this life would decide their destiny in the next ; 
just as if they either had no souls, or had nothing or 
little to do with the saving of them, which was the 
creed of the heathen. 

Now let us consider what it is to bring home 
to ourselves that we have souls, and in what the 
especial difficulty of it lies; for this may be of 
use to us in our attempt to realize that awful 

We are from our birth apparently dependent on 
things about us. We see and feel that we could 
not live or go forward without the aid of man. 
To a child this world is every thing : he seems 
to himself a part of this world, — a part of this 
world, in the same sense in which a branch is 
part of a tree ; he has little notion of his own 
separate and independent existence : that is, he 
has no just idea he has a soul. And if he goes 
through life with his notions unchanged, he has 
no just notion, even to the end of life, that he 
has a soul. He views himself merely in his 
connexion with this world, which is his all ; he 
looks to this world for his good, as to an idol ; and 
when he tries to look beyond this life, he is able 
to discern nothing in prospect, because he has no 
idea of any thing, nor can fancy any thing, but this 
life. And if he is obliged to fancy something, he 


fancies this life over again ; just as the heathen, 
when they reflected on those traditions of another 
life, which were floating among them, could but 
fancy the happiness of the blessed to consist in the 
enjoyment of the sun, and the sky, and the earth, 
as before, only as if these were to be more splendid 
than they are now. 

To understand that we have souls, is to feel our 
separation from things visible, our independence 
of them, our distinct existence in ourselves, our 
individuality, our power of acting for ourselves this 
way or that way, our accountableness for what 
we do. These are the great truths which lie 
wrapped up indeed even in a child's mind, and 
which God's grace can unfold there in spite of 
the influence of the external world ; but at first 
this outward world prevails. We look off from 
self to the things around us, and forget ourselves 
in them. Such is our state, — a depending for 
support on the reeds which are no stay, and over- 
looking our real strength, — at the time when God 
begins His process of reclaiming us to a truer view 
of our place in His great system of providence. 
And when He visits us, then in a little while 
there is a stirring within us. The unprofitableness 
and feebleness of the things of this world are 
forced upon our minds ; they promise but cannot 
perform, they disappoint us. Or, if they do 
perform what they promise, still (so it is) they 
do not satisfy us. We still crave for something, 


we do not well know what ; but we are sure it is 
something which the world has not given us. 
And then its changes are so many, so sudden, so 
silent, so continual. It never leaves changing ; 
it goes on to change, till we are " quite sick at 
heart : — then it is that our reliance on it is broken. 
It is plain we cannot continue to depend upon it, 
unless we keep pace with it, and go on changing 
too ; but this we cannot do. We feel that, while 
it changes, we are one and the same; and thus, 
under God's blessing, we come to have some 
glimpse of the meaning of our independence of 
things temporal, and our immortality. And should 
it so happen that misfortunes come upon us, (as 
they often do,) then still more are we led to 
understand the nothingness of this world ; then 
still more are we led to distrust it, and are weaned 
from the love of it, till at length it floats before 
our eyes merely as some idle veil, which, not- 
withstanding its many tints, cannot hide the view 
of what is beyond it ; — and we begin, by degrees, 
to perceive that there are but two beings in the 
whole universe, our own soul, and the God who 
made it. 

Sublime, unlooked-for doctrine, yet most true! 
To every one of us there are but two beings in 
the whole world, himself and God ; for, as to this 
outward scene, its pleasures and pursuits, its 
honours and cares, its contrivances, its personages, 
its kingdoms, its multitude of busy slaves, what 


are they to us ? nothing — no more than a show : — 
"The world passeth away and the lust thereof." 
And as to those others nearer to us, who are not 
to be classed with the vain world, I mean our 
friends and relations, whom we are right in loving, 
these, too, after all, are nothing to us here. They 
cannot really help or profit us ; we see them, and 
they act upon us, only (as it were) at a distance, 
through the medium of sense ; they cannot get 
at our souls ; they cannot enter into our thoughts, 
or really be companions to us. In the next world 
it will, through God's mercy, be otherwise; but 
here we enjoy, not their presence, but the anticipa- 
tion of what one day shall be ; so that, after all, 
they vanish before the clear vision we have, first, of 
our own existence, next of the presence of the great 
God in us, and over us, as our Governor and Judge, 
who dwells in us by our conscience, which is His 

And now consider what a revolution will take 
place in the mind that is not utterly reprobate, in 
proportion as it realizes this relation between itself 
and the most high God. We never in this life 
can fully understand what is meant by our living 
for ever, but we can understand what is meant 
by this world's not living for ever, by its dying 
never to rise again. And learning this, we learn 
that we owe it no service, no allegiance; it has 
no claim over us, and can do us no material good 
nor harm. On the other hand, the law of God 


written on our hearts bids us serve Him, and partly 
tells us how to serve Him, and Scripture completes 
the precepts which nature began. And both Scrip- 
ture and conscience tell us we are answerable 
for what we do, and that God is a righteous 
Judge ; and, above all, our Saviour, as our visible 
Lord God, takes the place of the world as the Only- 
begotten of the Father, having shown Himself 
openly, that we may not say that God is hidden. 
And thus a man is drawn forward by all manner of 
powerful influences to turn from things temporal to 
things eternal, to deny himself, to take up his cross 
and follow Christ. For there are Christ's awful 
threats and warnings to make him serious. His pre- 
cepts to attract and elevate him, His promises to 
cheer him. His gracious deeds and sufferings to 
humble him to the dust, and to bind his heart once 
and for ever in gratitude to Him who is so surpass- 
ing in mercy. All these things act upon him ; and, 
as truly as St. Matthew rose from the receipt of 
custom when Christ called, heedless what by- 
standers would say of him, so they who, through 
grace, obey the secret voice of God, move onward 
contrary to the world's way, and careless what man- 
kind may say of them, as understanding that they 
have souls, which is the one thing they have to care 

I am well aware that there are indiscreet 
teachers gone forth into the world, who use lan- 
guage such as I have used, but mean something 


very different. Such are they who deny the grace 
of baptism, and think that a man is converted to 
God all at once. But I have no need now to 
mention the difference between their teaching and 
that of Scripture. Whatever their peculiar errors 
are, so far as they say that we are by nature blind 
and sinful, and must, through God's grace, and 
our own endeavours, learn that we have souls 
and rise to a new life, severing ourselves from the 
world that is, and walking by faith in what is 
unseen and future, so far they say true, for they 
speak the words of Scripture ; which says, " Awake 
thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and 
Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk 
circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming 
the time, because the days are evil ; wherefore be 
ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of 
the Lord is ^" 

Let us, then, seriously question ourselves, and 
beg of God grace to do so honestly, whether we 
are loosened from the world ; or whether, living 
as dependent on it, and not on the Eternal Author 
of our being, we are in fact taking our portion 
with this perishing outward scene, and ignorant 
of our having souls. 1 know very well that such 
thoughts are distasteful to the minds of men in 
general. Doubtless many a one there is, who, 
on hearing doctrines such as I have been insisting 

• Eph. V. 14—17. 


on, says in his heart, that religion is thus made 
gloomy and repulsive ; that he would attend to 
a teacher who spoke in a less severe way; and 
that in fact Christianity was not intended to be a 
dark burdensome law, but a religion of cheerful- 
ness and joy. This is what young people think, 
though they do not express it in this argumenta- 
tive form. They view a strict life as something 
offensive and hateful ; they turn from the notion 
of it. And then, as they get older and see more 
of the world, they learn to defend their opinion, 
and express it more or less in the way in which I 
have just put it. They hate and oppose the truth, 
as it were upon principle ; and the more they are 
told that they have souls, the more resolved they 
are to live as if they had not souls. But let us 
take it as a clear point from the first, and not to 
be disputed, that religion must ever be difficult to 
those who neglect it. All things that we have to 
learn are difficult at first ; and our duties to God, 
and to man for His sake, are peculiarly difficult, 
because they call upon us to take up a new life, 
and quit the love of this world for the next. It 
cannot be avoided ; we must fear and be in sorrow, 
before we can rejoice. The Gospel must be a 
burden before it comforts and brings us peace. 
No one can have his heart cut away from the 
natural objects of its love, without pain during the 
process and throbbings afterwards. This is plain 
from the nature of the case: and, however true 


it be, that this or that teacher may be harsh and 
repulsive, yet he cannot materially alter things. 
Reliofion is in itself at first a weariness to the 
worldly mind, and it requires an effort and a self- 
denial in every one who honestly determines to be 

But there are other persons who are far more 
hopeful than those I have been speaking of, 
who, when they hear repentance and newness 
of life urged on them, are frightened at the 
thought of the greatness of the work ; they are 
disheartened at being told to do so much. Now 
let it be well understood, that to realize our 
own individual accountableness and immortality, 
of which I have been speaking, is not required 
of them all at once. I never said a person was 
not in a hopeful way, who did not thus fully 
discern the world's vanity and the worth of his 
soul. But a man is truly in a very desperate 
way, who does not wish, who does not try, to 
discern and feel all this. I want a man on the 
one hand to confess his immortality with his lips, 
and on the other, to live as if he tried to under- 
stand his own words, and then he is in the way of 
salvation ; he is in the way towards heaven, even 
though he has not yet fully emancipated himself 
from the fetters of this world. Indeed none of 
us (of course) are entirely loosened from this 
world. We all use words, in speaking of our 
duties, higher and fuller than we really under- 


stand. No one entirely realizes what is meant by 
his having a soul; even the best of men is but in 
a state of progress towards the simple truth ; and 
the most weak and ignorant of those who seek 
after it cannot but be in progress. And therefore 
no one need be alarmed at hearing that he has 
much to do before he arrives at a right view of his 
own condition in God's sight, i. e. at faith; for we 
all have much to do, and the great point is, are we 
willing to do it ? 

Oh that there were such an heart in us, to 
put aside this visible world, to desire to look at 
it as a mere screen between us and God, and 
think of Him who has entered in beyond the veil, 
and who is watching us, trying us, yes, and bless- 
ing, and influencing, and encouraging us towards 
good, day by day ! Yet, alas, how do we suffer 
the mere varying circumstances of every day to 
sway us ! How difficult it is to remain firm and 
in one mind under the seductions or terrors of the 
world ! We feel variously according to the place, 
time, and people we are with. We are serious on 
Sunday, and we sin deliberately on Monday. We 
rise in the morning with remorse at our offences 
and resolutions of amendment, yet before night 
we have transgressed again. The mere change of 
society puts us into a new frame of mind ; nor do 
we sufficiently understand this great weakness of 
ours, or seek for strength where alone it can be 
found, in the Unchangeable God. What will be 


our thoughts in that day, when at length this 
outward world drops away altogether, and we find 
ourselves where we ever have been, in His pre- 
sence, with Christ standing at His right hand ! 

On the contrary, what a blessed discovery is it 
to those who make it, that this world is but vanity 
and without substance; and that really they are 
ever in their Saviour's presence. This is a thought 
which it is scarcely right to enlarge upon in a 
mixed congregation, where there may be some who 
have not given their hearts to God; for why should 
the privileges of the true Christian be disclosed to 
mankind at large, and sacred subjects, which are 
his peculiar treasure, be made common to the care- 
less liver ? He knows his blessedness, and needs 
not another to tell it him. He knows in whom 
he has believed; and in the hour of danger or 
trouble he knows what is meant by that peace, 
which Christ did not explain when He gave it to 
His Apostles, but merely said it was not as the 
world could give. 

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose 
mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in 
Thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the 
Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength'." 

* Isaiah xxvi. 3, 4. 



John xiii. 17. 
" If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." 

There never was a people or an age to which 
these words could be more suitably addressed 
than to this country at this time ; because we 
know more of the way to serve God, of our duties, 
our privileges, and our reward, than any other 
people hitherto, as far as we have the means of 
judging. To us then especially our Saviour says, 
" If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do 

Now, doubtless, many of us think we know 
this very well. It seems a very trite thing to say, 
that it is nothing to hnmo what is right, unless we 
do it; an old subject about which nothing new 
can be said. When we read such passages in 
Scripture, we pass over them as admitting them 
without dispute ; and thus we contrive practically 
to forget them. Knowledge is nothing compared' 


with doing; but the knowing that knowledge is 
nothing, we make to be something, we make it 
count, and thus we cheat ourselves. 

This we do in parallel cases also. Many a man 
instead of learning humility in practice, confesses 
himself a poor sinner, and next prides himself 
upon the confession ; he ascribes the glory of his 
redemption to God, and then becomes in a manner 
proud that he is redeemed. He is proud of his so- 
called humility. 

Doubtless Christ spoke no words in vain. The 
Eternal Wisdom of God did not utter His voice 
that we might at once catch up His words in an 
irreverent manner, think we understand them at a 
glance, and pass them over. But His word en- 
dureth for ever ; it has a depth of meaning suited 
to all times and places, and hardly and painfully to 
be understood in any. They, who think they enter 
into it easily, may be quite sure they do not enter 
into it at all. 

Now then let us try, by His grace, to make the 
text a living word to the benefit of our souls. 
Our Lord says, " If ye know, happy are ye if ye 
do." Let us consider how we commonly read 

We read a passage in the Gospels, for instance, 
a parable perhaps, or the account of a miracle; 
or we read a chapter in the prophets, or a psalm. 
Who is not struck with the beauty of what he 
reads ? I do not wish to speak of those who read 


the Bible only now and then, and who will in 
consequence generally find its sacred pages dull 
and uninteresting; but of those who study it. 
Who of such persons does not see the beauty of 
it ? for instance, take the passage which introduces 
the text. Christ had been washing His disciples' 
feet. He did so at a season of great mental 
suffering ; it was just before He was seized by 
His enemies to be put to death. The traitor. His 
familiar friend, was in the room. All of His 
disciples, even the most devoted of them, loved 
Him much less than they thought they did. In 
a little while they were all to forsake Him and 
flee. This He foresaw ; yet He calmly washed 
their feet, and then He told them that He did so 
by way of an example ; that they should be full 
of lowly services one to the other, as He to them ; 
that he among them was in fact the highest who 
put himself the lowest. This He had said before ; 
and His disciples must have recollected it. Per- 
haps they might wonder in their secret hearts whi/ 
He repeated the lesson ; they might say to them- 
selves, "We have heard this before." They 
might be surprised that His significant action. 
His washing their feet, issued in nothing else 
than a precept already delivered, the command 
to be humble. At the same time they would 
not be able to deny, or rather they would deeply 
feel, the beauty of His action. Nay, as loving 
Him (after all) above all things, and reverencing 
VOL. I. D 


Him as their Lord and Teacher, they would feel 
an admiration and awe of Him ; but their minds 
would not rest sufficiently on the practical direc- 
tion of the instruction vouchsafed to them. Thev 
knew the truth, and they admired it; they did 
not observe what it was they lacked. Such may 
be considered their frame of mind ; and hence 
the force of the text, delivered primarily against 
Judas Iscariot, who knew and sinned deliberately 
against the truth ; secondarily referring to all the 
Apostles, and St. Peter chiefly, who promised to be 
faithful, but failed under the trial; lastly, to us 
all, — all of us here assembled, who hear the word 
of life continually, know it, admire it, do all but 
obey it. 

Is it not so ? is not Scripture altogether pleasant 
except in its strictness ? do not we try to persuade 
ourselves, that to feel religiously, to confess our 
love of religion, and to be able to talk of religion, 
will stand in the place of careful obedience, of that 
self-denial which is the very substance of true prac- 
tical religion ? Alas ! that religion which is so 
delightful as a vision, should be so distasteful as a 
reality. Yet so it is, whether we are aware of the 
fact or not. 

1. The multitude of persons even who profess 
religion are in this state of mind. We will take 
the case of those who are in better circumstances 
than the mass of the community. They are well 
educated and taught ; they have few distresses 


in life, or are able to get over them by the variety 
of their occupations, by the spirits which attend 
good health, or at least by the lapse of time. 
They go on respectably and happily, with the 
same general tastes and habits which they would 
have had if the Gospel had not been given them. 
They have an eye to what the world thinks of 
them ; are charitable when it is expected. They 
are polished in their manners, kind from natural 
disposition or a feeling of propriety. Thus their 
religion is based upon self and the world, a mere 
civilization ; the same (I say) as it would have 
been in the main, (taking the state of society 
as they find it,) even supposing Christianity 
were not the religicm of the land. But it is; 
and let us go on to ask, how do they in conse- 
quence feel towards it ? They accept it, they add 
it to what they are, they ingraft it upon the selfish 
and worldly habits of an unrenewed heart. They 
have been taught to revere it, and to believe it to 
come from God; so they admire it, and accept 
it as a rule of life, so far forth as it agrees with 
the carnal principles which govern them. So far 
as it does not agree, they are blind to its excel- 
lence and its claims. They overlook or explain 
away its precepts. They in no sense obey be- 
cause it commands. They do right where they 
would have done right had it not commanded; 
however, they speak well of it, and think they 
understand it. Sometimes, if I may continue 



the description, they adopt it into a certain re- 
fined elegance of sentiments and manners, and 
then their religion is all that is graceful, fasti- 
dious, and luxurious. They love religious poetry 
and eloquent preaching. They desire to have 
their feelings roused and soothed, and to secure a 
variety and relief of that eternal subject which 
is unchangeable. They tire of its simplicity, and 
perhaps seek to keep up their interest in it by 
means of religious narratives, fictitious or embel- 
lished, or of news from foreign countries, or of the 
history of the prospects or successes of the Gospel ; 
thus perverting what is in itself good and inno- 
cent. This is their state of mind at best; for 
more commonly they think it enough merely to 
show some slight regard to the subject of religion ; 
to attend its services on the Lord's day, and then 
only once, and coldly to express an approbation 
of it. But of course every description of such 
persons can be but general ; for the shades of 
character are so varied and blended in individuals, 
as to make it impossible to give an accurate pic- 
ture, and often very estimable persons and truly 
good Christians are partly infected with this bad 
and earthly spirit. 

2. Take again another description of them. 
They have perhaps turned their attention to the 
means of promoting the happiness of their fellow- 
creatures, and have formed a system of morality 
and religion of their own ; then they come to 


Scripture. They are much struck with the high 
tone of its precepts, and the beauty of its teach- 
ing. It is true, they find many things in it which 
they do not understand or do not approve ; many 
things they would not have said themselves. But 
they pass these by ; they fancy that these do not 
apply to the present day, (which is an easy way of 
removing any thing we do not like,) and on the 
whole they receive the Bible, and they think it 
highly serviceable for the lower classes. There- 
fore, they recommend it, and support the institu- 
tions which are the channels of teaching it. But 
as to their own case, it never comes into their 
minds to apply its precepts seriously to themselves ; 
they know them already, they consider. They 
know them and that is enough ; but as for doing 
them, by which I mean, going forward to obey 
them with an unaffected earnestness and an honest 
faith acting upon them, receiving them as they 
are, and not as their own previously formed 
opinions would have them be, they have nothing 
of this right spirit. They do not contemplate 
such a mode of acting. To recommend and affect 
a moral and decent conduct, (on whatever prin- 
ciples,) seems to them to be enough. The spread 
of knowledge bringing in its train a selfish tem- 
perance, a selfish peaceableness, a selfish bene- 
volence, the morality of expedience, this satisfies 
them. They care for none of the truths of 
Scripture, on the ground of their being in Scrip- 


ture; these scarcely become more valuable in 
their eyes for being there written. They do not 
obey because they are told to obey, on faith ; and 
the need of this divine principle of conduct they 
do not comprehend. Why will it not answer (they 
seem to say,) to make men good in one way as 
well as another? "Abana and Pharpar, rivers of 
Damascus, are they not better than all the waters 
of Israel ?" as if all the knowledge and the training 
that books ever gave had power to unloose one 
sinner from the bonds of Satan, or to effect more 
than an outward reformation, an appearance of 
obedience; as if it were not a far different prin- 
ciple, a principle independent of knowledge, above 
it and before it, which leads to real obedience, that 
principle of divine faith, given from above, which 
has life in itself, and has power really to use know- 
ledge to the soul's welfare ; in the hand of which 
knowledge is (as it were) the torch lighting us on 
our way, but not teaching or strengthening us to 

3. Or take another view of the subject. Is it 
not one of the most common excuses made by 
the poor for being irreligious, that they have had 
no education ? as if to know much was a neces- 
sary step for right practice. Again, they are apt 
to think it enough to know and to talk of religion, 
to make a man religious. Why have you come 
hither to-day, my brethren? — not as a matter of 
course, I will hope; not merely because friends or 


superiors told you to come. I will suppose you 
have come to church as a religious act ; but beware 
of supposing that all is done and over by the act of 
coming. It is not enough to be present here ; 
though many men act as if they forgot they must 
attend to what is going on, as well as come. It is 
not enough to listen to what is preached ; though 
many think they have gone a great way when 
they do this. You must pray ; now this is very 
hard in itself to any one who tries (and this is 
the reason why so many men prefer the sermon to 
the prayers, because the former is merely the 
getting knowledge, and the latter is to do a deed of 
obedience) : you must prai/ ; and this I say is very 
difficult, because our thoughts are so apt to wander. 
But even this is not all ; — you must, as you 
pray, really intend to tri/ to practise what you 
pray for. When you say, " Lead us not into 
temptation," you must in good earnest mean to 
avoid in your daily conduct those temptations 
which you have already suffered from. When 
you say, " Deliver us from evil," you must mean to 
struggle against that evil in your hearts, which 
you are conscious of, and which you pray to be 
forgiven. This is difficult ; still more is behind. 
You must actually carry your good intentions 
into effect during the week, and in truth and reality 
war against the world, the flesh, and the devil. 
And any one here present who falls short of this, 
that is, who thinks it enough to come to church to 


learn God's will, but does not bear in mind to do it 
in his daily conduct, be he high or be he low, 
know he mysteries and all knowledge, or be he 
unlettered and busily occupied in active life, he is 
a fool in His sight, who maketh the wisdom of 
this world foolishness. Surely he is but a trifler, 
as substituting a formal outward service for the 
religion of the heart ; and he reverses our Lord's 
words in the text, " because he knows these 
things, most unhappy is he, because he does them 

But some one may say, " It is so very difficult to 
serve God, it is so much against my own mind, 
such an effort, such a strain upon my strength 
to bear Christ's yoke, I must give it over, or I must 
delay it at least. Can nothing be taken instead ? I 
acknowledge His law to be most holy and true, and 
the accounts I read about good men are most 
delightful. I wish I were like them with all my 
heart ; and for a little while I feel in a mind 
to set about imitating them. I have begun several 
times, I have had seasons of repentance, and set 
rules to myself; but for some reason or other I 
fell back after a while, and was even worse than 
before. I know, but I cannot do. O wretched 
man that I am ! " 

Now to such an one I say, You are in a much 
more promising state than if you were contented 
■with yourself, and thought that knowledge was 
every thing, which is the grievous blindness which 


I have hitherto been speaking of; that is, you are 
in a better state, if you do not feel too much 
comfort or confidence in your confession. For 
this is the fault of many men ; they make such an 
acknowledgment as I have described a substitute 
for real repentance ; or allow themselves, after 
making it, to put off repentance, as if they could 
be suffered to give a word of promise which did 
not become due (so to say) for many days. You 
are, I admit, in a better state than if you were 
satisfied with yourself, but you are not in a safe 
state. If you were now to die, you would have no 
hope of salvation : no hope, that is, if your own 
showing be true, for I am taking your own words- 
Go before God's judgment-seat, and there plead 
that you know the Truth and have not done it. 
This is what you frankly own ; — how will it there 
be taken ? " Out of thine own mouth will I 
judge thee," says our Judge Himself, and who shall 
reverse His judgment? Therefore such an one 
must make the confession with great and real 
terror and shame, if it is to be considered a pro- 
mising sign in him ; else it is mere hardness of 
heart. For instance : I have heard persons say 
lightly, (every one must have heard them,) that 
they own it would be a wretched thing indeed for 
them or their companions to be taken off suddenly. 
The young are especially apt to say this ; that is, 
before they have come to an age to be callous, or 
have formed excuses to overcome the natural true 


sense of their conscience. They say they hope 
some day to repent. This is their own witness 
against themselves, like that bad prophet at Bethel 
who was constrained with his own mouth to utter 
God's judgments while he sat at his sinful meat. 
But let not such an one think that he will re- 
ceive any thing of the Lord : he does not speak 
in faith. 

When, then, a man complains of his hardness 
of heart or weakness of purpose, let him see to it 
whether this complaint is more than a mere pre- 
tence to quiet his conscience, which is frightened 
at his putting off repentance ; or, again, more than 
a mere idle word, said half in jest and half in 
compunction. But, should he be earnest in his 
complaint, then let him consider he has no need 
to complain. Every thing is plain and easy to 
the earnest ; it is the double-minded who find 
difficulties. If you hate your own corruption in 
sincerity and truth, if you are really pierced to 
the heart that you do not do what you know you 
should do, if you would love God if you could, then 
the Gospel speaks to you words of peace and 
hope. It is a very different thing indolently to 
say, "I would I were a different man," and to 
close with God's offer to make you different when 
it is put before you. Here is the test between 
earnestness and insincerity. You say you wish 
to be a different man ; Christ takes you at your 
word, so to speak ; He offers to make you different. 


He says, " I will take away from you the heart of 
stone, the love of this world and its pleasures, 
if you will submit to my discipline." Here a 
man draws back. No ; he cannot bear to lose 
the love of the world, to part with his present 
desires and tastes ; he cannot consent to be 
changed. After all he is well satisfied at the 
bottom of his heart to remain as he is, only he 
wants his conscience taken out of the way. Did 
Christ offer to do this for him, if He would but 
make bitter sweet and sweet bitter, darkness light 
and light darkness, then he would hail the glad 
tidings of peace ; — till then he needs Him not. 

But if a man is in earnest in wishing to get at 
the depths of his own heart, to expel the evil, to 
purify the good, and to gain power over himself, 
so as to do as well as know the Truth, what is the 
difficulty ? — a matter of time indeed, but not of 
uncertainty is the recovery of such a man. So 
simple is the rule which he must follow, and so 
trite, that at first he will be surprised to hear it. 
God does great things by plain methods: and 
men start from them through pride, because they 
are plain. This was the conduct of Naaman the 
Syrian. Christ says, " Watch and pray ;" herein 
lies our cure. To watch and to pray are surely in 
our power, and by these means we are certain 
of getting strength. You feel your weakness ; 
you fear to be overcome by temptation : then 
keep out of the way of it. This is watching. 


Avoid society which is likely to mislead you; 
flee from the very shadow of evil ; you cannot be 
too careful; better be a little too strict than a 
little too easy, — it is the safer side. Abstain from 
reading books which are dangerous to you. Turn 
from bad thoughts when they arise, set about 
some business, begin conversing with some friend, 
or say to yourself the Lord's prayer reverently. 
When you are urged by temptation, whether it 
be by the threats of the world, false shame, self- 
interest, provoking conduct on the part of another, 
or the world's sinful pleasures, urged to be cowardly, 
or covetous, or unforgiving, or sensual, shut your 
eyes and think of Christ's precious blood-shedding. 
Do not dare to say you cannot help sinning ; 
a little attention to these points will go far 
(through God's grace) to keep you in the right 
way. And again, pray as well as watch. You 
must know that you can do nothing of yourself; 
your past experience has taught you this; there- 
fore look to God for the will and the power ; 
ask Him earnestly in His Son's name ; seek His 
holy ordinances. Is not this in your power? 
Have you not power at least over the limbs of 
your body, so as to attend the means of grace 
constantly ? Have you literally not the power 
to come hither ; to observe the Fasts and Festivals 
of the Church ; to come to His Holy Altar and 
receive the Bread of Life? Get yourself, at 
least, to do this ; to put out the hand, to take 


His gracious Body and Blood ; this is no arduous 
work ; — and you say you really wish to gain 
the blessings He offers. What would you have 
more than a free gift, vouchsafed " without money 
and without price?" So, make no more excuses; 
murmur not about your own bad heart, your 
knowing and resolving, and not doing. Here is 
your remedy. 

Well were it if men could be persuaded to be 
in earnest ; but few are thus minded. The many 
go on with a double aim, trying to serve both God 
and mammon. Few can get themselves to do 
what is right, because God tells them ; they have 
another aim; they desire to please self or men. 
When they can obey God without offending the 
bad Master that rules them, then, and then only, 
they obey. Thus religion, instead of being the 
first thing in their estimation, is but the second. 
They differ, indeed, one from another what to put 
foremost : one man loves to be at ease, another to 
be busy, another to enjoy domestic comfort : but 
they agree in converting the truth of God, which 
they know to be Truth, into a mere instrument 
of secular aims ; not discarding the Truth, but 
degrading it. 

When He, the Lord of hosts, comes to shake 
terribly the earth, what number will He find of 
the remnant of the true Israel? We live in an 
educated age. The false gloss of a mere worldly 
refinement makes us decent and amiable. We 


all know and profess. We think ourselves wise ; 
we flatter each other ; we make excuses for our- 
selves when we are conscious we sin, and thus 
we gradually lose the consciousness that we are 
sinning. We think our own times superior to all 
others. " Thou blind Pharisee !" This was the 
fatal charge brought by our blessed Lord against 
the falsely enlightened teachers of his own day. 
As then we desire to enter into life, let us come 
to Christ continually for the two foundations of 
true Christian faith, — humbleness of mind and 
earnestness ! 



Psalm xix. 12. 

" Who can understand his errors ? Cleanse Thou me from 
secret faults." 

Strange as it may seem, multitudes called Christian 
go through life with no eifort to obtain a correct 
knowledge of themselves. They are contented with 
general and vague impressions concerning their real 
state ; and if they have more than this, it is merely 
such accidental information about themselves as the 
events of life force upon them. But exact sys- 
tematic knowledge they have none, and do not aim 
at it. 

When I say this is strange, I do not mean to 
imply that to know ourselves is easy ; it is very 
difficult to know ourselves even in part, and so 
far ignorance of ourselves is not a strange thing. 
But its strangeness consists in this, viz., that men 
should prof ess to receive and act upon the great 
Christian doctrines, while they are thus ignorant 
of_themselves, considering that self-knowledge is 


a necessary condition for understanding them. 
Thus it is not too much to say, that all those who 
neglect the duty of habitual self-examination are 
using words without meaning. The doctrines of the 
forgiveness of sins, and a new birth from sin, cannot 
be understood without some right knowledge of 
the nature of sin, that is, of our own heart. We 
may, indeed, assent to a form of words which 
declares those doctrines ; but if such a mere assent, 
however sincere, is the same as a real holding 
of them, and belief in them, then it is equally 
possible to believe in a proposition the terms of 
which belong to some foreign language, which 
is obviously absurd. Yet nothing is more common 
than for men to think that because they are 
familiar with words, they understand the ideas 
they stand for. Educated persons despise this fault 
in illiterate men, who use hard words as if they com- 
prehended them. Yet they themselves, as well as 
others, fall into the same error in a more subtle 
form, when they think they understand terms 
used in morals and religion, because such are 
common words, and have been used by them all 
their lives. 

Now (I repeat) unless we have some just idea of 
our hearts and of sin, we can have no right idea 
of a Moral Governor, a Saviour or a Sanctifier, 
that is, in professing to believe in Them, we 
shall be using words without attaching distinct 
meaning to them. Thus self-knowledge is at the 


root of all real religious knowledge; and it is in 
vain, — worse than vain, it is a deceit and a mis- 
chief, to think to understand the Christian doc- 
trines as a matter of course, merely by being 
taught by books, or by attending sermons, or 
by ^ny outward means « however excellent, taken 
by themselves. For it is in proportion as we 
search our hearts and understand our own nature, 
that we understand what is meant by an Infinite 
Governor and Judge ; in proportion as we compre- 
hend the nature of disobedience and our actual 
sinfulness, that we feel what is the blessing of 
the removal of sin, redemption, pardon, sanctifi- 
cation, which otherwise are mere words. God 
speaks to us primarily^ in our hearts . Self-know- 
ledge is the key to the precepts and doctrines 
of Scripture. The very utmost any outward notices 
of religion can do, is to startle us and make us 
turn inward and search our hearts ; and then, when 
we have experienced what it is to read ourselves, 
we shall profit by the doctrines of the Church and 
the Bible. 

Of course self-knowledge admits of degrees. 
No one, perhaps, is entirely ignorant of himself: 
and even the most advanced Christian knows 
himself only " in part." However, most men 
are contented with a slight acquaintance with 
their hearts, and therefore a superficial faith. 
This is the point which it is my purpose to insist 
upon. Men are satisfied to have numberless 



secret faults. They do not think about them, 
either as sins or as obstacles to strength of faith, 
and live on as if they had nothing to learn. 

Now let us consider attentively the §trong_£re- 
sumption that exists, that we all have serious 
secret faults ; a fact which, I believe, all are ready 
to confess in general terms, though few like calmly 
and practically to dwell upon it ; as I now wish to 

1. Now the most ready method of convincing 
ourselves of the existence in us of faults unknown 
to ourselves, is to consider how plainly we see the 
secret faults of others. At first sight there is of 
course no reason for supposing that we differ 
materially from those around us ; and if we see 
sins in them which they do not see, it is a presump- 
tion that they have their own discoveries about 
ourselves, which it would surprise us to hear. 
For instance : how apt is an angry man to fancy 
that he has the command of himself! The very 
charge of being angry, if brought against him, 
will anger him more ; and, in the height of his 
discomposure, he will profess himself able to 
reason and judge with clearness and impartiality. 
Now, it may be his turn another day, for what 
we know, to witness the same failing in us ; or, if 
we are not naturally inclined to violent passion, 
still at least we may be subject to other sins, equally 
unknown to ourselves, and equally known to him 
as his anger was to us. For example : there are 


persons who act mainly from self-interest at times 
when they conceive they are doing generous or 
virtuous actions ; they give freely, or put them- 
selves to trouble, and are praised by the world, and 
by themselves, as if acting on high principle; 
whereas close observers can detect desire of gain, 
love of applause, shame, or the mere satisfaction of 
being busy and active, as the principal cause of their 
good deeds. This may be our condition as well as 
that of others ; or, if it be not, still a similar in- 
firmity, the bondage of some other sin or sins, which 
others see, and we do not. 

But, say there is no human being sees sin in us, 
of which we are not aware ourselves, (though this 
is a bold supposition to make,) yet why should 
man's accidental knowledge of us limit the extent 
of our imperfections ? Should all the world speak 
well of us, and good men hail us as brothers, 
after all there is a Ju dge who trieth the hearts 
and the reins. He knows our real state; have 
we__earnestly besought Him to teach us the 
knowledge of our own hearts? If we have not, 
that very omission is a presumption against us. 
Though our praise were throughout the Church, we 
may be sure He sees sins without number in 
us, sins deep and heinous, of which we have no 
idea. If man sees so much evil in human nature, 
what must God see ? " If our heart condemn us, 
God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all 
things." Not acts alone of sin does He set down 



against us daily, of which we know nothing, but the 
thoughts of the heart too. The stirrings of pride, 
vanity, covetousness, impurity, discontent, resent- 
ment, these succeed each other through the day in 
momentary emotions, and are known to Him. We 
know them not ; but how much does it concern us 
to know them ! 

2. This consideration is suggested by the first 
view of the subject. Now reflect upon the actual 
disclosures of our hidden weakness, which acci- 
dents occasion. Peter followed Christ boldly, and 
suspected not his own heart, till it betrayed him in 
the hour of temptation, and led him to deny his 
Lord. David lived years of happy obedience 
while he was in private life. What calm, clear- 
sighted faith is manifested in his answer to Saul 
about Goliath : — " The Lord that delivered me 
out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of 
the bear. He will deliver me out of the hand of 
this Philistine'." Nay, not only in retired life, 
in severe trial, under ill usage from Saul, he 
continued faithful to his God; years and years 
did he go on, fortifying his heart, and learning 
the fear of the Lord ; yet power and wealth weak- 
ened his faith, and for a season overcame him. 
There was a time when a prophet could retort 
upon him, " Thou art the man ^ " whom thou 
condemnest. He had kept his principles in 

' 1 Sam. xvii. 37. ' 2 Sam. xii. 7. 


words, but lost them in his heart. Hezekiah is 
another instance of a religious man bearing 
trovhle well, but for a season falling back under 
the temptation of prosperity ; and that, after 
extraordinary mercies had been vouchsafed to 
him ^ And if these things be so in the case 
of the favoured saints of God, what (may we sup- 
pose) is our own real spiritual state in His sight ? 
It is a serious thought. The warning to be 
deduced from it is this : — ^Never to think we have 
a due knowledge of ourselves till we have been 
exposed to various kinds of temptations, and tried 
on every side. Integrity on one side of our cha- 
racter is no voucher for integrity on another. 
We cannot tell how we should act if brought 
under temptations different from those which we 
have hitherto experienced. This thought should 
keep us humble. We are sinners, but we do not 
know how great. He alone knows who died for 
our sins. 

3. Thus much we cannot but allow ; that we do 
not know ourselves in those respects in which we 
have not been tried. But farther than this ; 
What if we do not know ourselves even where 
we have been tried, and found faithful? It is a 
remarkable circumstance which has been often 
observed, that if we look to some of the most 
eminent saints of Scripture, we shall find their 

' 2 Kings XX. 12—19. 


recorded errors to have occurred in those parts of 
their duty in which each had had most trial, and 
generally showed obedience most perfect. Faithful 
Abraham through want of faith denied his wife. 
Moses, the meekest of men, was excluded from 
the land of promise for a passionate word. The 
wisdom of Solomon was seduced to bow down to 
idols. Barnabas, again, the son of consolation^ 
had a sharp contention with St. Paul. If then 
men, who knew themselves better than we doubt- 
less know ourselves, had so much of hidden in- 
firmity about them, even in those parts of their 
character which were most free from blame, what 
are we to think of ourselves ? and if our very 
virtues be so defiled with imperfection, what must 
be the unknown multiplied circumstances of evil 
which aggravate the guilt of our sins ? This is a 
third presumption against us. 

4. Think of this too. No one begins to examine 
himself, and to pray to know himself, (with 
David in the text,) but he finds within him an 
abundance of faults which before were either 
entirely or almost entirely unknown to him. 
That this is so, we learn from the written lives of 
good men, and our own experience of others. And 
hence it is that the best men are ever the most 
humble ; for, having a higher standard of excel- 
lence in their minds than others have, and know- 
ing themselves better, they see somewhat of the 
breadth and depth of their own sinful nature, and 


are shocked and frightened at themselves. The 
generality of men cannot understand this ; and if 
at times the habitual self-condemnation of religious 
men breaks out into words, they think it arises 
from affectation, or from a strange distempered 
state of mind, or from accidental melancholy and 
disquiet. Whereas the confession of a good man 
against himself, is really a witness against all 
thoughtless persons who hear it, and a call on 
them to examine their own hearts. Doubtless the 
more we examine ourselves, the more imperfect 
and ignorant we shall find ourselves to be. 

5. But let a man persevere in prayer and watch- 
fulness to the day of his death, yet he will never 
get to the bottom of his heart. Though he know 
more and more of himself as he becomes more 
conscientious and earnest, still the full manifesta- 
tion of the secrets there lodged, is reserved for 
another world. And at the last day who can 
tell the affright and horror of a man who lived 
to himself on earth, indulging his own evil will, 
following his own chance notions of truth and 
falsehood, shunning the cross and the reproach of 
Christ, when his eyes are at length opened before 
the throne of God, and all his innumerable sins, 
his habitual neglect of God, his abuse of his 
talents, his misapplication and waste of time, and 
the original unexplored sinfulness of his nature, 
are brought clearly and fiilly to his view? Nay, 
even to the true servants of Christ, the prospect is 


awful. " The righteous," we are told, " will scarcely 
be saved '." Then will the good man undergo 
the full sight of his sins, which on earth he 
was labouring to obtain, and partly succeeded 
in obtaining, though life was not long enough to 
learn and subdue them all. Doubtless we must 
all endure that fierce and terrifying vision of our 
real selves, that last fiery trial of the soul ^ before 
its acceptance, a spiritual agony and second 
death to all who are not then supported by the 
strength of Him who died to bring them safe 
through it, and in whom on earth they have 

My brethren, I appeal to your reason whether 
these presumptions are not in their substance fair 
and just. And if so, next I appeal to your con- 
sciences, whether they are new to you ; for if you 
have not even thought about your real state, nor 
even know how little you know of yourselves, 
how can you in good earnest be purifying your- 
selves for the next world, or be walking in the 
narrow way. 

And yet how many are the chances that a 
number of those who now hear me have no suffi- 
cient knowledge of themselves, or sense of their 
ignorance, and are in peril of their souls ! Christ's 
ministers cannot tell who are, and who are not, 

> 1 Pet. iv. 18. * 1 Cor. iii. 13. 


the true elect : but when the difficulties in the way 
of knowing yourselves aright are considered, it 
becomes a most serious and immediate question for 
each of you to entertain, whether or not he is living 
a life of self-deceit, and thinking far more com- 
fortably of his spiritual state than he has any right 
to do. For call to mind the impediments that are 
in the way of your knowing yourselves, or feeling 
your ignorance, and then judge. 

1. First of all, self-knowledge does not come as 
a matter of course ; it implies an effort and a work. 
As well may we suppose, that the knowledge of 
the languages comes by nature, as that acquaintance 
with our own heart is natural. Now the very 
effort of steadily reflecting, is itself painful to 
many men ; not to speak of the difficulty of reflect- 
ing correctly. To ask ourselves why we do this or 
that, to take account of the principles which govern 
us, and see whether we act for conscience' sake or 
from some lower inducement, is painful. We are 
busy_in the worlds and what leisure time we have 
we readily devote to a less severe and wearisome 

2. And then comes in our self-love. We li(ype 
the best ; this saves us the trouble of examining. 
Self-love answers for our safety. We think it 
sufficient caution to allow for certain possible un- 
known faults at the utmost, and to take them 
into the reckoning when we balance our account 
with our conscience : whereas, if the truth were 


known to us, we should find we had nothing but 
debts, and those greater than we can conceive, and 
ever increasing. 

3. And this favourable judgment of ourselves 
will especially prevail, if we have the misfortune 
to have uninterrupted health and high spirits, 
and domestic comfort. Health of body and mind 
is a great blessing, if we can bear it ; but unless 
chastened by watchings and fastings \ it will 
commonly seduce a man into the notion that he is 
nmch better than he really is. Resistance to our 
acting rightly, whether it proceed from within or 
without, tries our principle ; but when things go 
smoothly, and we have but to wish, and we can 
perform, we cannot tell how far we do or do not 
act from a sense of duty. When a man's spirits 
are high, he is pleased with every thing ; and with 
himself especially. He can act with vigour and 
promptness, and he mistakes this mere constitu- 
tional energy for strength of faith. He is cheer- 
ful and contented ; and he mistakes this for 
Christian peace. And, if happy in his family, 
he mistakes mere natural affection for Christian 
benevolence, and the confirmed temper of Chris- 
tian love. In short, he is in a dream, from which 
nothing could have saved him except deep humility, 
and nothing will ordinarily rescue him except sharp 

2 Cor. xi. 27. 


Other accidental circumstances are frequently 
causes of a similar self-deceit. While we remain 
in retirement from the world, we do not know 
ourselves; .or after any great mercy or trial, which 
has affected us much, and given a temporary strong 
impulse to our obedience; or when we are in 
keen pursuit of some good object, which excites 
the mind, and for a time deadens it to temptation. 
Under such circumstances we are ready to think 
far too well of ourselves. The world is away; 
or, at least, we are insensible to its seductions; 
and we mistake our merely temporary tranquillity, 
or our over-wrought fervour of mind, on the one 
hand for Christian peace, on the other for Christian 

4. Next we must consider the force of habit. 
Conscience at first warns us against sin ; but if 
we disregard it, it soon ceases to upbraid us ; and 
thus sins, once known, in time become secret 
sins. It seems then, (and it is a startling reflec- 
tion,) that the more ^uiJiy.,jEe^ a^^^ the less we 
know it; for the oftener we sin, the less we are 
distressed at it. I think many of us may, on 
reflection, recollect instances, in our experience 
of ourselves, of our gradually forgetting things to 
be wrong which once shocked us. Such is the 
force of habit. By it (for instance) men contrive 
to allow themselves in various kinds of dishonesty. 
They bring themselves to affirm what is untrue, 
or what they are not sure is true, in the course of 


business. They overreach and cheat; and still 
more are they likely to fall into low and selfish 
ways without their observing it, and all the while 
to continue careful in their attendance on the 
Christian ordinances, and bear about them a form 
of religion. Or, again, they will live in self-indul- 
gent habits ; eat and drink more than is right ; 
display a needless pomp and splendour in their 
domestic arrangements, without any misgiving; 
much less do they think of simplicity of manners 
and abstinence as Christian duties. Now we can- 
not suppose they always thought their present 
mode of living to be justifiable, for otJiers are still 
struck with its impropriety ; and what others now 
feel, doubtless they once felt themselves. But 
such is the force of habit. So again, to take as a 
third instance, the duty of stated private prayer ; at 

1 first it is omitted with compunction, but soon 
with indifference. But it is not the less a sin 
because we do not feel it to be such. Habit has 
. made it a secret sin. 

5. To the force of habit must be added that of 
custom . Every age has its own wrong ways ; and 
these have such influence, that even good men, 
from living in the world, are unconsciously misled 
by them. At one time a fierce persecuting hatred 
of those who erred in Christian doctrine has 
prevailed; at another, an odious over-estimation 
of wealth and the means of wealth: at another 
an irreligious veneration of the mere intellectual 


powers ; at another, a laxity of morals ; at another, 
disregard of the forms and discipline of the 
Church. The most religious men, unless they 
are especially watchful, will feel the sway of the 
fashion of their age ; and suffer from it, as Lot in 
wicked Sodom, though unconsciously. Yet their 
ignorance of the mischief does not change the 
nature of their sin ; — sin it still is, only custom 
makes it secret sin. 

6. Now what is our chief guide amid the evil 
and seducing customs of the world? — obviously, 
the Bible. "The world passeth away, but the 
word of the Lord endureth for ever^" How 
much extended, then, and strengthened, necessarily 
must be this secret dominion of sin over us, when 
we consider how little we read Scripture ! Our 
conscience gets corrupted, — true ; but the words 
of truth, though effaced from our minds, remain iu 
Scripture, bright in their eternal youth and purity. 
Yet, we do not study Scripture to stir up and 
refresh our minds. Ask yourselves, my brethren, 
what do you know of the Bible ? Is there any one 
part of it you have read carefully, and as a whole? 
One of the Gospels, for instance ? Do you know 
very much more of your Saviour's works and words 
than you have heard read in church ? Have you 
compared His precepts, or St. Paul's, or any other 
Apostle's, with your own daily conduct, and prayed 

' Isaiah xl. 8. 1 Pet. i. 24, 25. 1 John ii. 17. 


and endeavoured to act upon them ? If you have, 
so far is well ; go on to do so. If you have not, 
it is plain you do not possess, for you have not 
sought to possess, an adequate notion of that 
perfect Christian character which it is your duty 
to aim at, nor an adequate notion of your actual 
sinful state ; you are in the number of those who 
" come not to the light, lest their deeds should be 

These remarks may serve to impress upon us 
the difficulty of knowing ourselves aright, and 
the consequent danger to which we are exposed, 
of speaking peace to our souls, when there is no 

Many things are against us ; this is plain. Yet 
is not our future prize worth a struggle? Is it 
not worth present discomfort and pain to accom- 
plish an escape from the fire that never shall be 
quenched? Can we endure the thought of going 
down to the grave with a load of sins on our head 
unknown and unrepented of? Can we content 
ourselves with such an unreal faith in Christ, as 
in no sufficient measure includes self-abasement, 
or thankfulness, or the desire or effi^rt to be holy ? 
for how can we feel our need of His help, or our 
dependence on Him, or our debt to Him, or the 
nature of His gift to us, unless we know ourselves? 
How can we in any sense be said to have that 
" mind of Christ," to which the Apostle exhorts 



US, if we cannot follow Him to the height above, 
or the depth beneath ; if we do not in some mea- 
sure discern the cause and meaning of His sorrows, 
but regard the world, and man, and the system of 
Providence, in a light diiFerent from that which 
His words and acts supply ? If you receive re- 
vealed truth merely through the eyes and ears, 
you believe words, not things ; you deceive your- 
selves. You may conceive yourselves sound in 
faith, but you know nothing in any true way. 
Obedience to God's commandments, which im- 
plies knowledge of sin and of holiness, and the 
desire and endeavour to please Him, this is the 
only practical interpreter of Scripture doctrine. 
Without self-knowledge you have no root in your- 
selves personally; you may endure for a time, 
but under affliction or persecution your faith will 
not last. This is why many in this age (and in 
every age) become infidels, heretics, schismatics, 
disloyal despisers of the Church. They cast off 
the form of truth, because it never has been to 
them more than a form. They endure not, because 
they never have tasted that the Lord is gracious ; 
and they never have had experience of his power 
and love, because they have never known their 
own weakness and need. This may be the future 
condition of some of us, if we harden our hearts 
to-day, — apostasy. Some day, even in this world, 
we may be found openly among the enemies of 
God and His Church. 


But, even should we be spared this present 
shame, what will it ultimately profit a man to 
profess without understanding? to say he has faith, 
when he has not works'? In that case we shall 
remain in the heavenly vineyard, stunted plants, 
without the principle of growth in us, barren ; 
and, in the end, we shall be put to shame before 
Christ and the holy Angels, " as trees of withering 
fruits, twice dead, plucked up by the roots," even 
though we die in outward communion with the 

To think of these things, and to be alarmed, is 
the first step towards acceptable obedience ; to be 
at ease, is to be unsafe. We must know what the 
evil of sin is, hereafter, if we do not learn it here. 
God give us all grace to choose the pain of present 
repentance before the wrath to come ! 

* James ii. 14. 



Romans xiii. 11. 
" Now it is high time to awake out of sleep." 

By "sleep," in this passage, St. Paul means a 
state of insensibility to things as they really are 
in God's sight. When we are asleep, we are 
absent from this world's action, as if we were no 
longer concerned in it. It goes on without us, 
or, if our rest be broken, and we have some slight 
notion of people and occurrences about us, if we 
hear a voice or a sentence, and see a face, yet we 
are unable to catch these external objects justly 
and truly; we make them part of our dreams, 
and pervert them till they have scarcely a resem- 
blance to what they really are ; and such is the 
state of men as regards religious truth. God is 
ever Almighty and All-knowing. He is on His 
throne in heaven, trying the reins and the hearts ; 
and Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, is on His 
right hand ; and ten thousand Angels and Saints 

VOL. I. F 


are ministering to Him, rapt in the contemplation 
of Him, or by their errands of mercy connecting 
this lower world with His courts above ; they go 
to and fro, as though upon the ladder which Jacob 
saw. And the disclosure of this glorious invisible 
world is made to us principally by means of the 
Bible, partly by the course of nature, partly by 
the floating opinions of mankind, partly by the 
suggestions of the heart and conscience ; — and all 
these means of information concerning it are col- 
lected and combined by the Holy Church, which 
heralds the news forth to the whole earth, and 
applies it with power to individual minds, partly 
by direct instruction, partly by her very form and 
fashion, which witnesses to them ; so that the 
truths of religion circulate through the world 
almost as the light of day, every corner and 
recess having some portion of its blessed rays. 
Such is the state of a Christian country. Mean- 
while, how is it with those who dwell in it ? The 
words of the text remind us of their condition. 
They are asleep. While the Ministers of Christ 
are using the armour of light, and all things speak 
of Him, they " walk " not " becomingly, as in the 
day." Many live altogether as though the day 
shone not on them, but the shadows still endured ; 
and far the greater part of them are but very faintl}' 
sensible of the great truths preached around them. 
They see and hear as people in a dream ; they 
mix up the Holy Word of God with their own 


idle imaginings; if startled for a moment, yet 
they soon relapse into slumber ; they refuse to be 
awakened, and think their happiness consists in 
continuing as they are. 

Now I do not for an instant suspect, my bre- 
thren, that you are in the sound slumber of sin. 
This is a miserable state, which I should hope 
was, on the whole, the condition of few men, at 
least in a place like this. But, allowing this, yet 
there is great reason for fearing that very many 
of you are not wide awake : that though your 
dreams are disturbed, yet dreams they are; and 
that the view of religion which you think to be a 
true one, is not that vision of the Truth which 
you would see were your eyes open, but such a 
vague, defective, extravagant "picture of it as a 
man sees when he is asleep. At all events, how- 
ever this may be, it will be useful (please God) 
if you ask yourselves, one by one, the question, 
" How do I know I am in the right way ? How do 
I know that I have real faith, and am not in a 
dream ?" 

The circumstances of these times render it very 
difficult to answer this question. When the 
world was against Christianity it was compara- 
tively easy. But (in one sense) the world is now 
Jbr it. I do not mean there are not turbulent 
lawless men, who would bring all things into 
confusion, if they could ; who hate religion, and 
would overturn every established institution which 



proceeds from, or is connected with it. Doubtless 
there are very many such, but from such men 
religion has nothing to fear. The truth has ever 
flourished and strengthened under persecution. 
But what we have to fear is the opposite fact, 
that all the rank, and the station, and the intelli- 
gence, and the opulence of the country is pro- 
fessedly with religion. We have cause to fear 
from the very circumstance that the institu- 
tions of the country are based upon the acknow- 
ledgment of religion as true. Worthy of all 
honour are they who so based them ! Miserable 
is the guilt which lies upon those who have at- 
tempted, and partly succeeded, in shaking that 
holy foundation ! But it often happens that our 
most bitter are not our most dangerous enemies; 
on the other hand, greatest blessings are the 
most serious temptations to the unwary. And 
our danger, at present, is this, that a man's hav- 
ing a general character for religion, reverencing 
the Gospel and professing it, and to a certain point 
obeying it, so fully promotes his temporal interests, 
that it is difficult for him to make out for him- 
self whether he really acts on faith, or from a 
desire of this world's advantages. It is difficult 
to find tests which may bring home the truth to 
his mind, and probe his heart after the manner of 
Him who, from His throne above, tries it with an 
Almighty Wisdom. It can scarcely be denied 
that attention to our religious duties is becoming 


a fashion among large portions of the community, 
— so large, that, to many individuals, these portions 
are in fact the world. We are, every now and then, 
surprised to find persons to be in the observance 
of family prayer, of reading Scripture, or of the 
Lord's Supper, of whom we should not have ex- 
pected beforehand such a profession of faith ; or 
we hear them avowing the high evangelical truths 
of the New Testament, and countenancing those 
who maintain them. All this brings it about, that 
it is our interest in this world to profess to be 
Christ's disciples. 

And further than this, it is necessary to remark, 
that, in spite of this general profession of zeal for 
the Gospel among all respectable persons at this 
day, nevertheless there is reason for fearing, that 
it is not altogether the real Gospel that they are 
zealous for. Doubtless we have cause to be 
thankful whenever we see persons earnest in the 
various ways I have mentioned. Yet, somehow, 
after all, there is reason for being dissatisfied with 
the character of the religion of the day ; dissatis- 
fied, first, because oftentimes these same persons 
are very inconsistent ; — often, for instance, talk 
irreverently and profanely, ridicule or slight things 
sacred, speak against the Holy Church, or against 
the blessed Saints of early times, or even against 
the favoured servants of God, set before us in 
Scripture; or act with the world and the worse 
sort of men, even when they do not speak like 


them ; attend to them more than to the Ministers 
of God, or are very lukewarm, lax, and unscru- 
pulous in matters of conduct, so much so, that 
they seem hardly to go by principle, but by what 
is merely expedient and convenient. And then 
again, putting aside our judgment of these men 
as individuals, and thinking of them as well as 
we can, (which of course it is our duty to do,) yet, 
after all, taking merely the multitude of them 
as a symptom of a state of things, I own I am 
suspicious of any religion that is a people's reli- 
gion, or an age's religion. Our Saviour says, 
" Narrow is the way." This, of course, must not 
be interpreted without great caution; yet surely 
the whole tenor of the Inspired Volume leads us 
to believe that His Truth will not be heartily re- 
ceived by the many, that it is against the current 
of human feeling and opinion, and the course of 
the world, and so far forth as it is received by a 
man, will be opposed by himself, i. e. by his old 
nature which remains about him, next by all 
others, so far forth as they have not received it. 
"The light shining in darkness" is the token of 
true religion ; and, though doubtless there are sea- 
sons when a sudden enthusiasm arises in favour of 
the Truth, (as in the history of St. John the Bap- 
tist, in whose " light" the Jews " were willing for 
a season to rejoice'," so as even "to be baptized 

' John V. 35. 


of him, confessing their sins ' ;") yet such a popula- 
rity of the truth is but sudden, comes at once and 
goes at once, has no regular growth, no abiding 
stay. It is error alone which grows and is re- 
ceived heartily on a large scale. St. Paul has set 
up his warning against our supposing Truth will 
ever be heartily accepted, whatever show there 
may be of a general profession of it, in his last 
Epistle, where he tells Timothy, among other sad 
prophecies, that " evil men and seducers shall 
wax worse and worse ^" Truth, indeed, has that 
power in it, that it forces men to profess it in 
words ; but when they go on to act, instead of 
obeying it, they substitute some idol in the place of 
it. On these accounts, when there is much talk of 
religion in a country, and much congratulation that 
there is a general concern for it, a cautious mind 
will feel anxious lest some counterfeit be, in fact, 
honoured instead of it ; lest it be the dream of 
man rather than the verities of God's word, which 
has become popular, and lest the received form 
have no more of truth in it than is just necessary to 
recommend it to the reason and conscience : — lest, 
in short, it be Satan transformed into an angel of 
light, rather than the Light itself, which is attract- 
ing followers. 

If, then, this be a time, (which I suppose it is,) 
when a general profession of religion is thought 
respectable and right in the virtuous and orderly 
' Matt. iii. G. ' 2 Tim. iii. 1 3. 


classes of the community, this circumstance should 
not diminish your anxiety about your own state 
before God, but rather (I may say) increase it ; for 
two reasons, first, because you are in danger of 
doing right from motives of this world ; next, be- 
cause you may, perchance, be cheated of the Truth, 
by some ingenuity which the world puts, like coun- 
terfeit coin, in the place of the Truth. 

Some, indeed, of those who now hear me, are in 
situations where they are almost shielded from the 
world's influence, whatever it is. There are persons 
so happily placed as to have religious superiors, who 
direct them to what is good only, and who are 
kind to them, as well as pious towards God. This 
is their happiness, and they must thank God 
for the gift ; but it is their temptation too. At 
least they are under one of the two temptations 
just mentioned ; good behaviour is, in their case, 
not only a matter of duty, but of interest. If they 
obey God, they gain praise from men as well as 
from Him ; so that it is very difiicult for them to 
know whether they do right for conscience' sake, 
or for the world's sake. Thus, whether in private 
families, or in the world, in all the ranks of 
middle life, men lie under a considerable danger 
at this day, a more than ordinary danger, of self- 
deception, of being asleep while they think them- 
selves awake. 

How then shall we try ourselves ? Can any 
tests be named which will bring certainty to our 


minds on the subject? No indisputable tests 
can be given. We cannot know for certain. We 
must beware of an impatience about knowing 
what our real state is. St. Paul himself did not 
know till the last days of his life, (as far as we 
know,) that he was one of God's elect who shall 
never perish. He said, " I know nothing by 
myself, yet am I not hereby justified ^" i. e. 
though I am not conscious to myself of neglect 
of duty, yet am I not therefore confident of my 
acceptance. Judge nothing before the time. Ac- 
cordingly he says in another place, " I keep under 
my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by 
any means, when I have preached to others, I 
myself should be a castaway ^" And yet though 
this absolute certainty of our election unto glory 
be unattainable, and the desire to obtain it an 
impatience which ill befits sinners, nevertheless a 
comfortable hope, a sober and subdued belief that 
God has pardoned and justified us for Christ's 
sake, (blessed be His name !) is attainable, accord- 
ing to St. John's words, " If our heart condemn us 
not, then have we confidence toward God \" And 
the question is, how are we to attain to this, 
under the circumstances in which we are placed? 
In what does it consist ? 

Were we in a heathen land, (as I said just now,) 
it were easy to answer. The very profession of the 

' 1 Cor. iv. 4. ' 1 Cor. ix. 27. 1 John iii. 21. 


Gospel would almost bring evidence of true faith, 
as far as we could have evidence ; for such profes- 
sion among Pagans is almost sure to involve per- 
secution. Hence it is that the Epistles are so full 
of expressions of joy in the Lord Jesus, and in the 
exulting hope of salvation. Well might they be 
confident who had suffered for Christ. " Tribula- 
tion worketh patience, and patience experience, 
and experience hope'." " Henceforth let no man 
trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the 
Lord Jesus I" " Always bearing about in the body 
the dying of the Lord Jesus; that the life also 
of Jesus might be made manifest in our body^" 
" Our hope of you is stedfast, knowing that as 
ye are partakers of the suffering, so shall ye be 
also of the consolation ^" These and such like 
texts belong to those only who have witnessed 
for the truth like the early Christians. They 
are beyond us. 

This is certain ; yet since the nature of Christian 
obedience is the same in every age, it still brings 
with it, as it did then, an evidence of God's 
favour. We cannot indeed make ourselves as 
sure of our being in the number of God's true 
servants as the early Christians were, yet we may 
possess our degree of certainty, and by the same 
kind of evidence, the evidence of self-denial. This 

' Rom. V. 3,4. * Gal. vi. 17. 

' 2 Cor. iv. 10. < 2 Cor. i. 7. 


was the great evidence which the first disciples 
gave, and which we can give still. Reflect upon 
our Saviour's plain declarations, " Whosoever will 
come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up 
his cross and follow Me'." "If any man come 
to Me, and hate not his father and mother, and 
wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, 
and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 
And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come 
after Me, he cannot be My disciple ^" " If thy 
hand offend thee, cut it off .... if thy foot offend 
thee, cut it off . . . .if thine eye offend thee, pluck 
it out : . . . . it is better for thee to enter into life 
maimed .... halt .... with one eye, than to 
be cast into hell ^" 

Now without attempting to explain perfectly 
such passages as these, which doubtless cannot be 
understood without a fulness of grace which is 
possessed by very few men, yet at least we learn 
thus much from them, that a rigorous self-denial is 
a chief duty, nay, that it may be considered the 
test whether we are Christ's disciples, whether we 
are living in a mere dream, which we mistake 
for Christian faith and obedience, or are really 
and truly awake, alive, living in the day, on 
our road heavenwards. The early Christians went 
through self-denials in their very profession of 
the Gospel ; what are cmr self-denials^ now that 

' Mark viii. 34. * Luke xiv. 26, 27. ' Mark ix. 43—47. 


the profession of the Gospel is not a self-denial? 
In what sense do we fulfil the words of Christ? 
have we any distinct notion what is meant by 
the words "taking up our cross?" in what way 
are we acting, in which we should not act, sup- 
posing the Bible and the Church were unknown to 
this country, and religion, as existing among us, 
was merely a fashion of this world ? What are we 
doing, which we have reason to trust is done for 
Christ's sake who bought us ? 

You know well enough that works are said to be 
the fruits and evidence of faith. That faith is said 
to be dead which has them not. Now what works 
have we to show of such a kind as to give us " con- 
fidence," so that we may " not be ashamed before 
Him at His coming \" 

In answering this question I observe, first of all, 
that, according to Scripture, the self-denial which 
is the test of our faith must be daily. "If any 
man will come after Me, let him deny himself, 
and take up his cross daily ^ and follow Me ^" 
It is thus St. Luke records our Saviour's words. 
Accordingly, it seems that Christian obedience 
does not consist merely in a few occasional efforts, 
a few accidental good deeds, or certain seasons 
of repentance, prayer, and activity ; a mistake, 
which minds of a certain class are very apt to 
fall into. This is the kind of obedience which 

' 1 John ii. 28. ' Luke ix. 23. 


constitutes what the world calls a great man, i. e. 
a man who has some noble points, and every now 
and then acts heroically, so as to astonish and 
subdue the minds of beholders, but who in private 
life has no abiding personal religion, who does 
not regulate his thoughts, words, and deeds, accord- 
ing to the law of God. Again, the word daily 
implies, that the self-denial which is pleasing to 
Christ consists in little things. This is plain, for 
opportunity for great self-denials does not come 
every day. Thus to take up the cross of Christ is 
no great action done once for all, it consists in the 
continual practice of small duties which are dis- 
tasteful to us. 

If, then, a person asks how he is to know 
whether he is dreaming on in the world's slumber, 
or is really awake and alive unto God, let him 
first fix his mind upon some one or other of his 
besetting infirmities. Every one who is at all in 
the habit of examining himself, must be conscious 
of such within him. Many men have more than 
one, all of us have some one or other ; and in 
resisting and overcoming such, self-denial has its 
first employment. One man is indolent and fond 
of amusement, another man is passionate or ill- 
tempered, another is vain, another has little con- 
troul over his tongue ; others are weak, and cannot 
resist the ridicule of thoughtless companions; 
others are tormented with bad passions, of which 


they are ashamed, yet are overcome. Now let 
every one consider what his weak point is ; in 
that is his trial. His trial is not in those things 
which are easy to him, but in that one thing, in 
those several things, whatever they are, in which 
to do his duty is against his nature. Never think 
yourself safe because you do your duty in ninety- 
nine points ; it is the hundredth which is to be the 
ground of your self-denial, which must evidence, 
or rather instance and realize your faith. It is 
in reference to this you must watch and pray ; 
pray continually for God's grace to help you, and 
watch with fear and trembling lest you fall. 
Other men may not know what these weak points 
of your character are, they may mistake them. 
But you may know them ; you may know them 
by their guesses and hints, and your own observa- 
tion, and the light of the Spirit of God. And 
oh, that you may have strength to wrestle with 
them and overcome them! Oh, that you may 
have the wisdom to care little for the world's 
religion, or the praise you get from the world, and 
your agreement with what clever men, or powerful 
men, or many men, make the standard of reli- 
gion, compared with the secret consciousness that 
you are obeying God in little things as well as 
great, in the hundredth duty as well as in the 
ninety-nine ! Oh, that you may (as it were) 
sweep the house diligently to discover what you 


lack of the full measure of obedience ! for be 
quite sure, that this apparently small defect will 
influence your whole spirit and judgment in all 
things. Be quite sure that your judgment of 
persons, and of events, and of actions, and of 
doctrines, and your spirit towards God and man, 
your faith in the high truths of the Gospel, and 
your knowledge of your duty, all depend in a 
strange way on this strict endeavour to observe 
the whole law, on this self-denial in those little 
things in which obedience is a self-denial. Be 
not content with a warmth of faith carrying you 
over many obstacles even in your obedience, 
forcing you past the fear of men, and the usages 
of society, and the persuasions of interest; exult 
not in your experience of God's past mercies, and 
your assurance of what He has already done for 
your soul, if you are conscious you have neglected 
the one thing needful, the " one thing " which 
" thou lackest," — daily self-denial. 

But, besides this, there are other modes of 
self-denial to try your faith and sincerity, which 
it may be right just to mention. It may so 
happen that the sin you are most liable to, is not 
called forth every day. For instance: anger and 
passion are irresistible perhaps when they come 
upon you, but it is only at times that you are 
provoked, and then you are off your guard ; so 
that the occasion is over, and you have failed, 
before you were well aware of its coming. It is 


right then almost to find out for yourself daily 
self-denials ; and this because our Lord bids you 
take up your cross daily, and because it proves 
your earnestness, and because by doing so you 
strengthen your general power of self-mastery, 
and come to have such an habitual command of 
yourself, as will be a defence ready prepared 
when the season of temptation comes. Rise up 
then in the morning with the purpose that (please 
God) the day shall not pass without its self-denial, 
with a self-denial in innocent pleasures and tastes, 
if none occurs to mortify sin. Let your very 
rising from your bed be a self-denial ; let your 
meals be self-denials. Determine to yield to 
others in things indifferent, to go out of your way 
in small matters, to inconvenience yourself, (so that 
no direct duty suffers by it,) rather than you 
should not meet with your daily discipline. This 
was the Psalmist's method, who was, as it were, 
"punished all day long, and chastened every 
morning ^" It was St. Paul's method, who " kept 
under," or bruised "his body, and brought it 
into subjection -." This is one great end of 
fasting. A man says to himself, " How am I to 
know I am in earnest ?" I would suggest to him. 
Make some sacrifice, do some distasteful thing, 
which you are not actually obliged to do, (so that 
it be lawful,) to bring home to your mind that in 

» Psalm Ixxiii. 14. * 1 Cor. ix. 27. 


fact you do love your Saviour, that you do hate 
sin, that you do hate your sinful nature, that you 
have put aside the present world. Thus you will 
have an evidence (to a certain point) that you are 
not using mere words. It is easy to make profes- 
sions, easy to say fine things in speech or in 
writing, easy to astonish men with truths which 
they do not know, and sentiments which rise 
above human nature. "But thou, O servant of 
God, flee these things, and follow after righteous- 
ness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." 
Let not your words run on ; force every one of 
them into action as it goes, and thus, cleansing 
yourself from all pollution of the flesh and spirit, 
perfect holiness in the fear of God. In dreams we 
sometimes move our arms to see if we are awake 
or not, and so we are awakened. This is the way 
to keep your heart awake also. Try yourself daily 
in little deeds, to prove that your faith is more 
than a deceit. 

I am aware all this is a hard doctrine ; hard to 
those even who assent to it, and can describe it 
most accurately. There are such imperfections, 
such inconsistencies in the heart and life of even 
the better sort of men, that continual repentance 
must ever go hand in hand with our endeavours 
to obey. Much we need the grac6 of Christ's 
blood to wash us from the guilt we daily incur; 
much need we the aid of His promised Spirit ! And 
surely He will grant all the riches of His mercy 

VOL. I, G 


to His true servants ; but as surely He will vouch- 
safe to none of us the power to believe in Him, 
and the blessedness of being one with Him, who 
are not as earnest in obeying Him as if salvation 
depended on themselves. 



1 Cor. iv. 20. 
' ** The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." 

How are we the better for being members of the 
Christian Church? This is a question which has 
ever claims on our attention ; but it is right from 
time to time to examine our hearts with more than 
usual care, to try them by the standard of that 
divinely enlightened temper in the Church, and in 
the Saints, the work of the Holy Ghost, called by 
St. Paul " the spirit." I ask then, how are we the 
better for being Christ's disciples? what reason 
have we for thinking that our lives are very 
different from what they would have been if we 
had been heathens ? Have we, in the words of the 
text, received the kingdom of God in word or in 
power? I will make some remarks in explanation 
of this question, which may (through God's grace) 
assist you in answering it. 

G 2 


1. Now first, if we would form a just notion 
how far we are influenced by the power of the 
Gospel, we must evidently put aside every thing 
which we do merely in imitation of others, and 
not from religious principle. Not that we can 
actually separate our good words and works into 
two classes, and say, what is done from faith, and 
what is done only by accident, and in a random- 
way ; but without being able to draw the line, it 
is quite evident that so very much of our appa- 
rent obedience to God arises from mere obedience 
to the world and its fashions ; or rather, that it is 
so difficult to say what is done in the spirit of 
faith, as to lead us, on reflection, to be very much 
dissatisfied with ourselves, and quite out of con- 
ceit with our past lives. Let a person merely 
reflect on the number and variety of bad or 
foolish thoughts which he suffers, and dwells on in 
private, which he would be ashamed to put into 
words, and he will at once see, how very poor a 
test his outward demeanour in life is of his real 
holiness in the sight of God. Or again, let him 
consider the number of times he has attended 
public worship as a matter of course because 
others do, and without seriousness of mind; or 
the number of times he has found himself un- 
equal to temptations when they came, which 
beforehand he and others made light of in 
conversation, blaming those perhaps who had 
been overcome by them, and he must own that 


his outward conduct shapes itself unconsciously to 
the manners of those with whom he lives, being 
acted upon by external impulses, apart from any 
right influence proceeding from the heart. Now, 
when I say this, am I condemning all that we 
do, without thinking expressly of the duty of 
obedience at the very time we are doing it ? Far 
from it ; a religious man, in proportion as obedi- 
ence becomes more and more easy to him, will 
doubtless do his duty unconsciously. It will be 
natural to him to obey, and therefore he will do 
it naturally, i. e. without effort or deliberation. It 
is difficult things which we are obliged to think 
about before doing them. When we have mas- 
tered our hearts in any matter, (it is true,) we no 
more think of the duty while we obey, than we 
think how to walk when we walk, or by what 
rules to exercise any art which we have thoroughly 
acquired. Separate acts of faith aid us on while 
we are unstable. As we get strength, but one 
extended act of faith (so to call it) influences 
us all through the day, and our whole day is 
but one act of obedience also. There then is no 
minute distribution of our faith among our par- 
ticular deeds. Our will runs parallel to God's 
will. This is the very privilege of confirmed 
Christians ; and it is comparatively but a sordid 
way of serving God, to be thinking when we do a 
deed, " if I do not do this, I shall risk my salva- 
tion ; or, if I do it, I have a chance of being 


saved;" — comparatively 2^, grovelling M^ay, for it is 
the best, the only way for sinners such as we are, 
to begin to serve God. Still as we grow in grace, 
we throw away childish things; then we are 
able to stand upright like grown men, without 
the props and aids which our infancy required. 
This is the noble manner of serving God, to do 
good without thinking about it, without any cal- 
culation or reasoning, from love of the good, and 
hatred of the evil ; — though cautiously and with 
prayer and watching, yet so generously, that if 
we were suddenly asked why we so act, we could 
only reply " because it is our way," or " because 
Christ so acted;" so spontaneously as not to know 
so much that we are doing right, as that we are 
not doing wrong ; I mean, with more of instinctive 
fear of sinning, than of minute and careful ap- 
preciation of the degrees of our obedience. Hence 
it is that the best men are ever the most humble ; 
as for other reasons, so especially because they 
are accustomed to be religious. They surprise 
others, but not themselves; they surprise others 
at their very calmness and freedom from thought 
about themselves. This is to have a great mind, 
to have within us that princely heart of innocence 
of which David speaks. Common men see God 
at a distance; in their attempts to be religious 
they feebly guide themselves as by a distant 
light, and are obliged to calculate and search 
about for the path. But the long practised 


Christian, who, through God's mercy, has brought 
God's presence near to hira, the elect of God, in 
whom the Blessed Spirit dwells, he does not look 
out of doors for the traces of God; he is moved 
by God dweUing in him, and needs not but act 
on instinct. I do not say there is any man alto- 
gether such, for this is an angelic life; but it is 
the state of mind to which vigorous prayer and 
watching tend. 

How different is this high obedience from that 
random unawares way of doing right, which to so 
many men seems to constitute a religious life ! 
The excellent obedience I have been describing 
is obedience on habit Now the obedience I con- 
demn as untrue, may be called obedience on 
custom. The one is of the heart, the other of 
the lips; the one is in power, the other in word; 
the one cannot be acquired without much and 
constant vigilance, generally not without much 
pain and trouble ; the other is the result of a 
mere passive imitation of those whom we fall in 
with. Why need I describe what every man's 
experience bears witness to? Why do children 
learn their mother tongue, and not a foreign 
language ? Do they think about it ? Are they 
better or worse for acquiring one language and 
not another? Their character, of course, is just 
what it would have been otherwise. How then 
are we better or worse, if we have but in the same 
passive way admitted into our minds certain reli- 


gious opinions; and have but accustomed our- 
selves to the words and actions of the world around 
us? Supposing we had never heard of the 
Gospel, should we not do just what we do, even 
in a heathen country, were the manners of the 
place, from one cause or another, as decent and 
outwardly religious? This is the question we 
have to ask ourselves. And if we are conscious 
to ourselves that we are not greatly concerned 
about the question itself, and have no fears worth 
mentioning, of being in the wrong, and no anxiety 
to find what is right, is it not evident that we 
are living to the world, not to God, and that what- 
ever virtue we may actually have, still the Gospel 
of Christ has come to us not in power, but in word 
only ? 

I have now suggested one subject for consider- 
ation concerning our reception of the kingdom of 
God ; viz. to inquire whether we have received it 
more than eternally ; but, 

2. I will go on to affirm that we may have 
received it in a higher sense than in word merely, 
and yet in no real sense in power ; in other words, 
that our obedience may be in some sort religious, 
and yet hardly deserve the title of Christian. This 
may be at first sight a startling assertion. It may 
seem to some of us as if there were no difference 
between being religious and being Christian ; and 
that to insist on a difference is to perplex people. 
But listen to me. Do you not think it possible 


for men to do their duty, i. e. be religious, in a 
heathen country? Doubtless it is. St. Peter says, 
that in every nation he that feareth God and 
worketh righteousness is accepted with Him \ 
Now are such persons, therefore. Christians ? Cer- 
tainly not. It would seem, then, it is possible 
to fear God and work righteousness, yet without 
being Christians; for (if we would know the 
truth of it) to be a Christian is to do this, and to 
do much more than this. Here, then, is a fresh 
subject for self-examination. Is it not the way of 
men to dwell with satisfaction on their good deeds, 
particularly when, for some reason or other, their 
conscience smites them ? Or when they are led to 
the consideration of death, then they begin to turn 
in their minds how they shall acquit themselves 
before the judgment-seat. And then it is they feel 
a relief in being able to detect, in their past lives, 
any deeds which may be regarded in any sense 
religious. You may hear some persons comforting 
themselves that they never harmed any one; and 
that they have not given into an openly profligate 
and riotous life. Others are able to say more ; 
they can speak of their honesty, their industry, 
or their general conscientiousness. We will say 
they have taken good care of their families ; they 
have never defrauded or deceived any one; and 
they have a good name in the world ; nay, they 

' Acts X. 3. 


have in one sense lived in the fear of God. I will 
grant them this and more; yet possibly they are 
not altogether Christians in their obedience. I 
will grant that these virtuous and religious deeds 
are really fruits of faith, not external merely, done 
without thought, but proceeding from the heart. 
I will grant they are really praiseworthy, and, 
when a man from want of opportunity knows no 
more, really acceptable to God; yet they deter- 
mine nothing about his having received the Gospel 
of Christ in power. Why ? for the simple reason 
that they are not enough. A Christian's faith 
and obedience is built on all this, but is only 
built on it. It is not the same as it. To be 
Christians, surely it is not enough to be that which 
we are enjoined to be, and must be, even without 
Christ ; not enough to be no better than good 
heathens; not enough to be, in some slight mea- 
sure, just, honest, temperate, and religious. We 
must indeed be just, honest, temperate, and reli- 
gious, before we can rise to Christian graces, and 
to be practised in justice and the like virtues is the 
way, the ordinary way, in which we receive the 
fulness of the kingdom of God ; and, doubtless, 
any man who despises those who try to practise 
them, (I mean conscientious men, who notwith- 
standing have not yet clearly seen and welcomed 
the Gospel system,) and slightingly calls them 
" mere moral men" in disparagement, such a man 
knows not what spirit he is of, and had best 


take heed how he speaks against the workings of 
the inscrutable Spirit of God. I am not wishing 
to frighten these imperfect Christians, but to lead 
them on ; to open their minds to the greatness of 
the work before them, to dissipate the meagre and 
carnal views in which the Gospel has come to 
them, to warn them that they must never be con- 
tented with themselves, or stand still and relax 
their efforts, but must go on unto perfection; that 
till they are much more than they are at present, 
they have received the kingdom of God in word, 
not in power ; that they are not spiritual men, and 
can have no comfortable sense of Christ's presence 
in their souls ; for to whom much is given, of him 
is much required. 

What is it, then, that they lack ? I will read 
several passages of Scripture which will make 
it plain. St. Paul says, " If any man be in Christ, 
he is a new creature : old things are passed away ; 
behold, all things are become new." Again : 
" The life which I now live in the flesh, I live 
by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and 
gave Himself for me." " The love of Christ con- 
straineth us." " Put on, therefore, as the elect 
of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, 
kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long- 
suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving 
one another, if any man have a quarrel against 
any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye; 
and above all these things, put on charity, which 


is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of 
God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are 
called in one body, and be ye thankful. Let the 
word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom." 
" God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into 
your hearts." Lastly, our Saviour's own memorable 
words, " If any man will come after Me, let 
him deny himself, and take up his cross daily 
and follow Me^" Now it is plain that this is a 
very different mode of obedience from any which 
natural reason and conscience tell us of; — differ- 
ent, not in its nature^ but in its excellence and 
'peculiarity. It is much more than honesty, justice, 
and temperance; and this is to be a Christian. 
Observe in what respect it is different from that 
lower degree of religion which we may possess 
without entering into the mind of the Gospel. 
First of all in its faith ; which is placed, not 
simply in God, but in God as manifested in 
Christ, according to His own words, " Ye believe 
in God, believe also in Me^" Next, we must 
adore Christ as our Lord and Master, and love 
Him as our most gracious Redeemer. We must 
have a deep sense of our guilt, and of the diffi- 
culty of securing Heaven ; we must live as in His 
presence, daily pleading His cross and passion, 
thinking of His holy commandments, imitating His 
sinless pattern, and depending on the gracious 

' 2 Cor. V. 14. 17. Gal. ii. 20. Col. iii. 12— 16. Gal, iv. 6. 
Luke ix. 23. ' John xiv. 1. 


aids of His Spirit ; that we may really and truly 
be servants of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in 
whose name we were baptized. Further, we 
must, for His sake, aim at a noble and unusual 
strictness of life, perfecting holiness in His fear, 
destroying our sins, mastering our whole soul, and 
bringing it into captivity to His law, denying 
ourselves lawful things, in order to do Him 
service, exercising a profound humility, and an 
unbounded, never-failing love, giving away much of 
our substance in religious and charitable works, 
and discountenancing and shunning irreligious 
men. This is to be a Christian ; a gift easily 
described, and in a few words, but attainable only 
with fear and much trembling ; promised, indeed, 
and in a measure accorded at once to every 
one who asks for it, but not secured till after many 
years, and never in this life fully realized. But 
be sure of this, that every one of us, who has had 
the opportunities of instruction and sufficient time, 
and yet does not in some good measure possess it, 
every one, who, when death comes, has not gained 
his portion of that gift which it requires a course 
of years to gain, and which he might have gained, 
is in a peril so great and fearful, that I do not like 
to speak about it. As to the notion of a partial 
and ordinary fulfilment of the duties of honesty, 
industry, sobriety, and kindness, *' availing^" him, 

' Gal. vi. 15. 


it has no Scriptural encouragement. We must 
stand or fall by another and higher rule. We 
must have become what St. Paul calls " new 
creatures^ ;" that is, we must have lived and wor- 
shipped God as the redeemed of Jesus Christ, in 
all faith and humbleness of mind, in reverence for 
His word and ordinances, in thankfulness, in resig- 
nation, in mercifulness, gentleness, purity, patience, 
and love. 

Now, considering the obligation of obedience 
which lies upon us Christians, in these two respects, 
first, as contrasted with a mere outward and no- 
minal profession, and next contrasted with that 
more ordinary obedience which is required of those 
even who have not the Gospel, how evident is it 
that we are far from the kingdom of God ! Let 
each in his own conscience apply this to him- 
self. I will grant he has some real Christian 
principle in his heart ; but I wish him to observe 
how Utile that is likely to be. Here is a thought 
not to keep us from rejoicing in the Lord Christ, 
but to make us " rejoice with trembling ^" wait 
diligently on God, pray Him earnestly to teach us 
more of our duty, and to impress the love of it on 
our hearts, to enable us to obey both in that free 
spirit, which can act right without reasoning and 
calculation, and yet with the caution of those who 
know their salvation depends on obedience in little 

^ Gal. vi. 15. * Ps. ii. n. 


things, from love of the truth as manifested in Him 
who is the Living Truth come upon earth, "the 
Way, the Truth, and the Life K" 

With others we have no concern ; we do not 
know what their opportunities are. There may be 
thousands in this populous land who never had the 
means of hearing Christ's voice fully, and in whom 
virtues short of evangelical will hereafter be ac- 
cepted as the fruit of faith. Nor can we know the 
hearts of ani/ men, or tell what is the degree in 
which they have improved their talents. It is 
enough to keep to ourselves. We dwell in the full 
light of the Gospel, and the full grace of the Sacra- 
ments. We ought to have the holiness of Apostles. 
There is no reason except our own wilful corruption, 
that we are not by this time walking in the steps 
of St. Paul or St. John, and following them as they 
followed Christ. What a thought is this ! Do not 
cast it from you, my brethren, but take it to your 
homes, and may God give you grace to profit by it ! 

' John xiv. 6. 



Hebrews x. 22. 

" Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, 
having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our 
bodies washed with pure water." 

Among the reasons which may be assigned for 
the observance of prayer at stated times, there is 
one which is very obvious, and yet perhaps is 
not so carefully remembered and acted upon as 
it should be. I mean the necessity of sinners 
cleansing themselves from time to time of the 
ever-accumulating guilt which loads their con- 
sciences. We are ever sinning ; and though 
Christ has died once for all to release us from 
our penalty, yet we are not pardoned once for 
all, but according as, and whenever each of us 
supplicates for the gift. By the prayer of faith 
we appropriate it ; but only for the time, not for 
ever. Guilt is again contracted, and must be 
again repented of and washed away. We cannot 


by one act of faith establish ourselves for ever 
after in the favour of God. It is going beyond 
His will to be impatient for a final acquittal, 
when we are bid ask only for our daily bread. 
We are still so far in the condition of the Israel- 
ites ; and though we do not offer sacrifice, or 
observe the literal washings of the Law, yet we 
still require the periodical renewal of those bless- 
ings which were formerly conveyed in their degree 
by the Mosaic rites ; and though we gain far more 
excellent gifts from God than the Jews did, and 
by more spiritual ordinances, yet means of ap- 
proaching Him we still need, and continual 
means to keep us in the justification in which 
baptism first placed us. Of this the text reminds 
us. It is addressed to Christians, to the regene- 
rate ; yet so far from their regeneration having 
cleansed them once for all, they are bid ever to 
sprinkle the blood of Christ upon their consciences, 
and renew (as it were) their baptism, and so con- 
tinually appear before the presence of Almighty 

Let us now endeavour to realize a truth, which 
few of us will be disposed to dispute as far as 
words go. 

1. First consider our present condition, as shown 
us in Scripture. Christ has not changed this, 
though He has died ; it is as it was from the 
beginning, — I mean our actual state as men. We 

VOL. I. H 


have Adam's nature in the same sense as if 
redemption had not come to the world. It has 
come to all the world, but the world is not 
changed thereby as a whole, — that change is not 
a work done and over in Christ. We are changed 
one by one ; the race of man is what it ever was, 
guilty; — what it was before Christ came; with 
the same evil passions, the same slavish will. The 
history of redemption, if it is to be effectual, must 
begin from the beginning with every individual 
of us, and be carried on through our own life. It 
is not a work done ages before we were bom. We 
cannot profit by the work of a Saviour, though 
He be the Blessed Son of God, so as to be saved 
thereby without our own working ; for we are 
moral agents, we have a will of our own, and 
Christ must be formed in us, and turn us from 
darkness to light, if God's gracious purpose, ful- 
filled upon the cross, is to be in our case more 
than a name, an abused, wasted privilege. Thus 
the world, viewed as in God's sight, can never 
become wiser or more enlightened than it has 
been. We cannot mount upon the labours of our 
forefathers. We have the same nature that man 
ever had, and we must begin from the point man 
ever began from, and work out our salvation in the 
same slow, persevering manner. 

(1.) When this is borne in mind, how important 
the Jewish law becomes to us Christians ! impor- 


tant in itself, over and above all references con- 
tained in it to that Gospel which it introduced. 
To this day it fulfils its original purpose of im- 
pressing upon man his great guilt and feebleness. 
Those legal sacrifices and purifications which are 
now all done away, are still evidence to us of a 
fact which the Gospel has not annulled, — our cor- 
ruption. Let no one lightly pass over the Book 
of Leviticus, and say it only contains the cere- 
monial of a national law. Let no one study it 
merely with a critic's eye, satisfied with connecting 
it in a nicely arranged system with the Gospel, 
as though it contained prophecy only. No ; 
it speaks to us. Are we better than the Jews? 
is our nature less unbelieving, sensual, or proud, 
than theirs? Surely man is at all times the 
same being, as even the philosophers tell us. And 
if so, that minute ceremonial of the Law presents 
us with a picture of our daily life. It impres- 
sively testifies to our continual sinning, by sug- 
gesting that an expiation is needful in all the 
most trivial circumstances of our conduct ; and 
that it is at our peril if we go on carelessly and 
thoughtlessly, trusting to our having been once 
accepted, — whether in baptism, — or (as we think) 
at a certain season of repentance, or (as we may 
fancy) at the very time of the death of Christ, (as 
if then the whole race of man were really and at 
once pardoned and exalted,) — or (worse still) if we 
profanely doubt that man has ever fallen under 

H 2 


a curse, and trust idly in the mercy of God, with- 
out a feeling of the true misery and infinite danger 
of sin. 

Consider the ceremony observed on the great 
day of atonement, and you will see what was the 
sinfulness of the Israelites, and therefore of all 
mankind, in God's sight. The High Priest was 
taken to represent the holiest person of the whole 
world. The nation itself was holy above the rest 
of the world; from it a holy tribe was selected; 
from the holy tribe, a holy family ; and from that 
family, a holy person. This was the High Priest, 
who was thus set apart as the choice specimen 
of the whole human race ; yet even he was not 
allowed, under pain of death, to approach even 
the mercy-seat of God, except once a year: nor 
then in his splendid robes, nor without sacri- 
fices for the sins of himself and the people, the 
blood of which he carried with him into the holy 

Or consider the sacrifices necessary according 
to the Law for sins of ignorance ' ; or again, for 
the mere touching any thing which the Law pro- 
nounced unclean, or for bodily disease ^ and hence 
learn how sinful our ordinary thoughts and deeds 
must be, represented to us as they are by these 
outward ceremonial transgressions. Not even their 
thanksgiving might the Israelites offer without an 

* Levit. iv. ' Levit. v. 2. 6. xiv. 1—32. 


offering of blood to cleanse it ; for our corruption 
is not merely in this act or that, but in our nature. 
(2.) Next, to pass from the Jewish law, you will 
observe that God tells us expressly in the history 
of the fall of Adam, what the legal ceremonies 
implied ; that it is our very nature which is sin- 
ful. Herein is the importance of the doctrine 
of original sin. It is very humbling, and as such 
the only true introduction to the preaching of 
the Gospel. Men can without trouble be brought 
to confess that they sin, i. e. that they commit 
sins. They know well enough they are not per- 
fect; nay, that they do nothing in the best 
manner. But they do not like to be told that the 
race from which they proceed is degenerate. Even 
the indolent have pride here. They think they 
can do their duty, only do not choose to do it; 
they like to believe, (though strangely indeed, for 
they condemn themselves while they believe it,) 
they like to believe that they do not want assist- 
ance. A man must be far gone in degradation, 
and has lost even that false independence of mind 
which is often a substitute for real religion in 
leading to exertion, who, while living in sin, 
steadily and contentedly holds the opinion that 
he is born for sin. And much more do the in- 
dustrious and active dislike to have it forced upon 
their minds, that do what they will, they have the 
taint of corruption about all their doings and 


imaginings. We know how ashamed men are of 
being low born, or discreditably connected. This 
is the sort of shame forced upon every son of 
Adam. " Thy first father hath sinned :" this is the 
legend on our forehead which even the sign of 
the Cross does no more than blot out, leaving the 
mark of it. This is our shame ; but I notice it 
here, not so much as a humbling thought, as with 
a view of pressing upon your consciences the 
necessity of appearing before God at stated sea- 
sons, in order to put aside the continually-re- 
newed guilt of your nature. Who will dare go 
on day after day in neglect of earnest prayer, 
and the Holy Communion, while each day brings 
its own fearful burden, coming as if spontaneously 
springing from our very nature, but not got rid 
of without deliberate and direct acts of faith in 
the Great Sacrifice which has been set forth for 
its removal ? 

(3.) Further, look into your own souls, my breth- 
ren, and see if you cannot discern some part of the 
truth of the Scripture statement, which I have 
been trying to set before you. Recollect the bad 
thoughts of various kinds which come into your 
minds like darts ; for these will be some evidence 
to you of the pollution and odiousness of your 
nature. True, they proceed from your adversary, 
the Devil ; and the very circumstance of your ex- 
periencing them is in itself no proof of your being 


sinful, for even the Son of God, your Saviour, 
suffered from the temptation of them. But you 
will scarcely deny that they are received by you 
so freely and heartily, as to show that Satan 
tempts you through your nature, not against it. 
Again, let them be ever so external in their first 
coming, do you not make them your own? Do 
you not detain them ? or do you impatiently and 
indignantly shake them off? Even if you reject 
them, still do they not answer Satan's purpose in 
inflaming your mind at the instant, and so evidence 
that the matter of which it is composed is corrupt- 
ible ? Do you not, for instance, dwell on the 
thought of wealth and splendour till you covet 
these temporal blessings ? or do you not suffer your- 
selves, though for a while, to be envious, or discon- 
tented, or angry, or vain, or impure, or proud ? Ah ! 
who can estimate the pollution hence, of one single 
day; the pollution of touching merely that dead 
body of sin which we put off indeed at our baptism, 
but which is tied about us while we live here, and 
is the means of our Enemy's assaults upon us ! 
The taint of death is upon us, and surely we 
shall be stifled by the encompassing plague, unless 
God from day to day vouchsafes to make us 

2. Again, reflect on the habits of sin which we 
superadded to our evil nature before we turned to 
God. Here is another source of continual defile- 
ment. Instead of checking the bad principles 


within us, perhaps we indulged them for years ; 
and they truly had their fruit unto death. Then 
Adam's sin increased, and multiplied itself within 
us ; there was a change, but it was for the worse, 
not for the better ; and the new nature we gained, 
far from being spiritual, was twofold more the 
child of hell than that with which we were born. 
So when, at length, we turned back into a better 
course, what a complicated work lay before us, to 
unmake ourselves ! And however long we have 
laboured at it, still how much unconscious, un- 
avoidable sin, the result of past transgression, is 
thrown out from our hearts day by day in the 
energy of our thinking and acting ! Thus, through 
the sins of our youth, the power of the flesh is 
exerted against us, as a second creative principle 
of evil, aiding the malice of the Devil; Satan 
from without, — and our hearts from within, not 
passive merely and kindled by temptation, but 
devising evil, and speaking hard things against 
God with articulate voice, whether we will or not ! 
Thus do past years rise up against us in present 
offences ; gross inconsistencies show themselves 
in our character ; and much need have we con- 
tinually to implore God to forgive us our past 
transgressions, which still live in spite of our re- 
pentance, and act of themselves vigorously against 
our better mind, feebly influenced by that younger 
principle of faith, by which we fight against 


3. Further, consider how many sins are involved 
in our obedience, I may say from the mere neces- 
sity of the case ; that is, from not having that 
more vigorous and clear-sighted faith which would 
enable us accurately to discern and closely to 
follow the way of life. The case of the Jews will 
exemplify what I mean. There were points of 
God's perfect Law which were not urged upon 
their acceptance, because it was foreseen that they 
would not be able to receive them as they really 
should be received, or to bring them home prac- 
tically to their minds, and obey them simply and 
truly. We, Christians, with the same evil hearts 
as the Jews had, and most of us as unformed 
in holy practice, have, nevertheless, a perfect 
Law. We are bound to take and use all the 
precepts of the New Testament, though it stands 
to reason that many of them are, in matter of 
fact, quite above the comprehension of most of 
us. I am speaking of the actual state of the case, 
and will not go aside to ask why, or under what 
circumstances God was pleased to change His 
mode of dealing with man. But so it is ; the 
Minister of Christ has to teach his sinful people a 
perfect obedience, and does not know how to set 
about it, or how to insist on any precept, so as to 
secure it from being misunderstood and misapplied. 
He sees men are acting upon low motives and 
views, and finds it impossible to raise their minds 
all at once, however clear his statements of the 


Truth. He feels that their good deeds might be 
done in a much better manner. There are num- 
berless small circumstances about their mode of 
doing things which oifend him, as implying 
poverty of faith, superstition, and contracted 
carnal notions. He is obliged to leave them to 
themselves with the hope that they may improve 
generally, and outgrow their present feebleness; 
and is often perplexed whether to praise or blame 
them. So is it with all of us, Ministers as well 
as people ; it is so with the most advanced of 
Christians while in the body, and God sees it. 
What a source of continual defilement is here; 
not an omission merely of what might be added 
to our obedience, but a cause of positive offence 
in the eyes of Eternal Purity ! Who is not dis- 
pleased when a man attempts some great work 
which is above his powers? and is it an excuse 
for his miserable performance that the work is 
above him ? Now this is our case ; we are bound 
to serve God with a perfect heart ; an exalted 
work, a work for which our sins disable us. And 
when we attempt it, necessary as is our endea- 
vour, how miserable must it appear in the eyes of 
the Angels! how pitiful our exhibition of our- 
selves ; and, withal, how sinful ! since did we love 
God more from the heart, and had we served Him 
from our youth up, it would not have been with 
us as it is. Thus our very calling, as creatures, and 
again as elect children of God, and freemen in 


the Gospel, is by our sinfulness made our shame; 
for it puts us upon duties, and again upon the 
use of privileges, which are above us. We attempt 
great things with the certainty of failing, and yet 
the necessity of attempting ; and so while we 
attempt, need continual forgiveness for ihejailure 
of the attempt. We stand before God as the 
Israelites at the passover of Hezekiah, who desired 
to serve God according to the Law, but could not 
do so accurately from lack of knowledge; and 
we can but offer, through our Great High Priest, 
our sincerity and earnestness instead of exact obe- 
dience as Hezekiah did for them. " The good Lord 
pardon every one, that prepareth his heart to seek 
God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not 
cleansed according to the purification of the sanc- 
tuary ^ ;" not performing, that is, the full duties of 
his calling. 

And if such be the deficiencies, even of the 
established Christian, in his ordinary state, how 
great must be those of the penitent, who has but 
lately begun the service of God ? or of the young, 
who are still within the influence of some un- 
bridled imagination, or some domineering passion ? 
or of the heavily depressed spirit, whom Satan 
binds with the bonds of bodily ailment, or tosses 
to and fro in the tumult of doubt and indecision ? 
Alas ! how is their conscience defiled with the 

• 2 Chron. xxx. 18, 19. 


thoughts, nay the words of every hour! and how 
inexpressibly needful for them to relieve them- 
selves of the evil that weighs upon their heart, 
by drawing near to God in full assurance of faith, 
and washing away their guilt in the Expiation 
which He has appointed! 

What I have said is a call upon you, my breth- 
ren, in the first place, to daily private prayer. 
Next, it is a call upon you to join the public 
services of the Church, not only once a week, but 
whenever you have the opportunity; knowing 
well that your Redeemer is especially present 
where two or three are gathered together. And, 
further, it is an especial call upon you to attend 
upon the celebration of the Lord's Supper, in 
which blessed ordinance we really and truly gain 
that spiritual life which is the object of our daily 
prayers. The Body and Blood of Christ give 
power and efficacy to our daily faith and repent- 
ance. Take this view of the Lord's Supper; as 
the appointed means of obtaining the great bless- 
ings you need. The daily prayers of the Christian 
do but spring from, and are referred back to, his 
attendance on it. Christ died once, long since: 
by communicating in His Sacrament, you renew 
the Lord's death; you bring into the midst of 
you that Sacrifice which took away the sins of the 
world ; you appropriate the benefit of it, while 
you eat it under the elements of bread and wine. 
These outward signs are simply the means of an 


hidden grace. You do not expect to sustain your 
animal life without food; be but as rational in 
spiritual concerns as you are in temporal. Look 
upon the consecrated elements as necessary ^ under 
God's blessing, to your continual sanctification ; 
approach them as the salvation of your souls. 
Why is it more strange that God should work 
through means for the health of the soul, than 
that He should ordain them for the preservation 
of bodily life, as He certainly has done? It is 
unbelief to think it matters not to your spiritual 
welfare whether you communicate or not. And 
it is worse than unbelief, it is utter insensibility 
and obduracy, not to discern the state of death 
and corruption into which, when left to yourselves, 
you are continually falling back. Rather thank 
God, that whereas you are sinners, instead of His 
leaving the mere general promise of life through 
His Son, which is addressed to all men, He has 
allowed you to take that promise to yourselves one 
by one, and thus gives you a humble hope that 
He has chosen you out of the world unto sal- 

Lastly, I have all along spoken as addressing 
true Christians, who are walking in the narrow 
way, and have hope of heaven. But these are 
the "few." Are there none here present of the 
"many" who walk in the broad way, and have 
upon their heads all their sins, from their baptism 
upwards? Rather, is it not probable that there 


are persons in this congregation, who, though 
mixed with the people of God, are really unfor- 
given, and if they now died, would die in their 
sins ? First, let those who neglect the Holy Com- 
munion ask themselves whether this is not their 
condition; let them reflect whether among the 
signs by which it is given us to ascertain our 
state, there can be, to a man's own conscience, a 
more fearful one than this, that he is omitting 
what is appointed as the ordinary means of his 
salvation. This is a plain test, about which no 
one can deceive himself. But next, let him have 
recourse to a more accurate search into his con- 
science ; and ask himself whether (in the words 
of the text) he " draws near to God with a true 
heart," i. e. whether in spite of his prayers and 
religious services, there be not some secret, unre- 
sisted lusts within him, which make his devotion a 
mockery in the sight of God, and leave him in his 
sins ; whether he be not in truth thoughtless, and 
religious only as far as his friends make him seem 
so, — or light-minded and shallow in his religion, 
being ignorant of the depths of his guilt, and 
resting presumptuously on his own innocence (as 
he thinks it) and God's mercy; — whether he be 
not set upon gain, obeying God only so far as 
His service does not interfere with the service of 
mammon ; — whether he be not harsh, evil-tem- 
pered, — unforgiving, unpitiful, or high-minded, — 
self-confident, and secure; — or whether he be not 


fond of the fashions of this world, which pass away, 
desirous of the friendship of the great, and of shar- 
ing in the refinements of society ; — or whether 
he be not given up to some engrossing pursuit, 
which indisposes him to the thought of his God 
and Saviour. 

Any one deliberate habit of sin incapacitates a 
man for receiving gifts of the Gospel. All such 
states of mind as these are fearful symptoms of the 
eadstence of some such wilful sin in our hearts ; and 
in proportion as we trace these symptoms in our 
conduct, so much we dread, lest we be reprobate. 

Let us then approach God all of us, confessing 
that we do not know ourselves ; that we are more 
guilty than we can possibly understand, and can 
but timidly hope, not confidently determine, that 
we have true faith. Let us take comfort in our 
being still in a state of grace, though we have no 
certain pledge of salvation. Let us beg Him to 
enlighten us, and comfort us ; to forgive us all our 
sins, teaching us those we do not see, and enabling 
us to overcome them. 



1 John v. 3. 

" This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments ; 
and His commandments are not grievous." 

It must ever be borne in mind, that it is a very 
great and arduous thing to attain to heaven. 
" Many are called, few are chosen." " Strait 
is the gate, and narrow is the way." " Many 
will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." 
" If any man come to Me, and hate not his 
father and mother, and wife and children, and 
brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he 
cannot be My disciple'." On the other hand, it 
is evident to any one who reads the New 
Testament with attention, that Christ and His 
Apostles speak of a religious life as something 
easy, pleasant, and comfortable. Thus, in the 
words I have taken for my text : — " This is the 
love of God, that we keep His commandments; 

' Matt. xxii. 14. vii. 14. Luke xiii. 24. xiv. 26. 


and His commandments are not grievous. In like 
manner our Saviour says, " Come unto Me .... 
and I will give you rest .... My yoke is easy, 
and My burden is light'." Solomon, also, in the 
Old Testament, speaks in the same way of true 
wisdom : — " Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and 
all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to 
them that lay hold upon her : and happy is every 
one that retaineth her .... When thou liest 
down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt 
lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet^" Again, 
we read in the prophet Micah : " What doth the 
Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love 
mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God*?" as if 
it were a little and an easy thing so to do. 

Now I will attempt to show Jiow it is that these 
apparently opposite declarations of Christ and His 
Prophets and Apostles are fulfilled to us. For 
it may be objected by inconsiderate persons that 
we are (if I may so express it) hardly ti^eated ; 
invited to come to Christ and receive His light 
yoke, promised an easy and happy life, the joy 
of a good conscience, the assurance of pardon, 
and the hope of Heaven ; and then, on the other 
hand, when we actually come, as it were, rudely 
repulsed, frightened, reduced to despair by severe 
requisitions and evil forebodings. Such is the 
objection, — not which any Christian would bring 

' Matt. xi. 28—30. ' Prov. iii. 17—24. * Micah vi. 8. 
VOL. I. I 


forward ; for we, my brethren, know too much of 
the love of our Master and only Saviour in dying 
for us, seriously to entertain for an instant any 
such complaint. We have at least faith enough 
for this, (and it does not require a great deal,) 
viz. to believe that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, 
is not "yea and nay, but in Him is yea. For 
all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in 
Him amen, unto the glory of God by us\" It is 
for the very reason that none of us can seriously 
put the objection, that I allow myself to state it 
strongly ; to urge it being in a Christian's judg- 
ment absurd, even more than it would be wicked. 
But though none of us really feel as an objection to 
the Gospel, this difference of view under which it is 
presented to us, or even as a difficulty, still it may 
be right (in order to our edification) that we should 
see how these two views of it are reconciled. We 
must understand Jiow it is both severe and indulgent 
in its commands, and both arduous and easy in its 
obedience, in order that we may understand it at all. 
" His commandments are not grievous," says the 
text. How is this ? — I will give one answer out of 
several which might be given. 

Now it must be admitted, first of all, as matter 
of fact, that they are grievous to the great mass 
of Christians. I have no wish to disguise a fact 
which we do not need the Bible to inform us of, 

1 2 Cor. i. 19, 20. 


but which common experience attests. Doubtless 
even those common elementary duties, of which 
the prophet speaks, " doing justly, loving mercy, 
and walking humbly with our God," are to most 
men grievous. 

Accordingly, men of worldly minds, finding 
the true way of life unpleasant to walk in, have 
attempted to find out other and easier roads ; and 
have been accustomed to argue, that there must 
be another way which suits them better than that 
which religious men walk in, for the very reason 
that Scripture declares that Christ's command- 
ments are not grievous. I mean, you will meet 
with persons who say, "After all it is not to be 
supposed that a strict religious life is so necessary 
as is told us in church ; else how should any one 
be saved? nay, and Christ assures us His yoke 
is easy. Doubtless we shall fare well enough, 
though we are not so earnest in the observance of 
our duties as we might be; though we are not 
regular in our attendance at public worship ; 
though we do not honour Christ's ministers and 
reverence His Church as much as some men do ; 
though we do not labour to know God's will, to 
deny ourselves, and to live to His glory, as entirely 
as the strict letter of Scripture enjoins." Some 
men have gone so far as boldly to say, "God 
will not condemn a man merely for taking a little 
pleasure ;" by which they mean, leading an irre- 
ligious and profligate life. And many there are 



who virtually maintain that we may live to the 
world, so that we do so decently, and yet live to 
God ; arguing that this world's blessings are given 
us by God, and therefore may lawfully be used; 
— that to use lawfully is to use moderately and 
thankfully ; — that it is wrong to take gloomy views, 
and right to be innocently cheerful, and so on ; 
which is all very true thus stated, did they not 
apply it unfairly, and call that use of the world 
moderate and innocent, which the Apostles would 
call being conformed to the world, and serving 
mammon instead of God. 

And thus, before showing you what is meant 
by Christ's commandments not being grievous, I 
have said what is not meant by it. It is not meant 
that Christ dispenses with strict religious obe- 
dience ; the whole language of Scripture is against 
such a notion. " Whosoever shall break one of 
these least commandments, and shall teach men 
so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of 
heaven ^" " Whosoever shall keep the whole 
law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of 
alP." Whatever is meant by Christ's yoke being 
easy, Christ does not encourage sin. And again, 
whatever is meant, still I repeat, as a matter of 
fact, most men find it not easy. So far must not 
be disputed. Now then let us proceed, in spite 
of this admission, to consider how He fulfils His 

* Matt. V. 19. - James ii. 10. 


engagements to us, that His ways are ways of 

1. Now, supposing some superior promised you 
any gift in a particular way, and you did not 
follow his directions, would he have broken his 
promise, or you have voluntarily excluded your- 
selves from the advantage ? Evidently you would 
have brought about your own loss ; you might, 
indeed, think his offer not worth accepting, bur- 
dened (as it was) with a condition annexed to it, 
still you could not in any propriety say that he 
failed in his engagement. Now when Scripture 
promises us that its commandments shall be easy, 
it couples the promise with the injunction that 
we should seek God early. "I love them that 
love Me, and those that seek Me early shall find 
Me ^" Again : " Remember now thy Creator in 
the days of thy youth ^" These are Solomon's 
words ; and if you require our Lord's own autho- 
rity, attend to His direction about the children : 
" Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and 
forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of 
God ^" Youth is the time of covenant with us, 
when He first gives us His Spirit ; first giving 
th&ii^ that we may then forthwith begin our return 
of obedience to Him ; not then giving it that we 
may delay our thank-offering for twenty, thirty, 
or fifty years ! Now it is obvious that obedience 

' Prov. viii. 17. '' Eccles. xii. 1. ' Mark x. 14. 


to God's commandments is ever easy, and almost 
without effort to those who begin to serve Him 
from the beginning of their days; whereas those 
who wait a while, find it grievous in proportion to 
their delay. 

For consider how gently God leads us on in our 
early years, and how very gradually He opens upon 
us the complicated duties of life. A child at first 
has hardly anything to do but to obey his parents ; 
of God he knows just as much as they are able to 
tell him, and he is not equal to many thoughts 
either about Him or about the world. He is 
almost passive in their hands who gave him life; 
and, though he has those latent instincts about 
good and evil, truth and falsehood, which all men 
have, he does not know enough, he has not had 
experience enough from the contact of external 
objects, to elicit into form and action those innate 
principles of conscience, or make himself conscious 
of the existence of them. 

And while on the one hand his range of duty 
is very confined, observe how he is assisted in 
performing it. First, he has no bad habits to 
hinder the suggestions of his conscience : indo- 
lence, pride, ill-temper, do not then act as they 
afterwards act, when the mind has accustomed 
itself to disobedience, as stubborn, deep-seated 
impediments in the way of duty. To obey requires 
an effort, of course ; but an, effort like the bodily 
effort of the child's rising from the ground, when 


he has fallen on it ; not the effort of shaking off 
drowsy sleep ; not the effort (far less) of violent 
bodily exertion in a time of sickness and long 
weakness: and the first effort made, obedience 
on a second trial will be easier than before, till 
at length it will be easier to obey than not to 
obey. A good habit will be formed, where other- 
wise a bad habit would have been formed. Thus 
the child, we are supposing, would begin to have 
a character ; no longer influenced by every tempt- 
ation to anger, discontent, fear, and obstinacy, in 
the same way as before ; but with something of 
firm principle in his heart to repel them in a 
defensive way, as a shield repels darts. In the 
mean time the circle of his duties would enlarge ; 
and, though for a time the issue of his trial would 
be doubtful to those who (as the Angels) could 
see it, yet, should he, as a child, consistently 
pursue this easy course for a few years, it may be, 
his ultimate salvation would be actually secured, 
and might be predicted by those who could see 
his heart, though he would not know it himself. 
Doubtless new trials would come on him ; bad 
passions, which he had not formed a conception 
of, would assail him ; but a soul thus born of God, 
in St. John's words, " sinneth not ; but he that is 
begotten of God keepeth himself, and that 
wicked one toucheth him not \" " His seed 

* 1 John V. 18. 


remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because 
he is born of God '." And so he would grow 
up to man's estate, his duties at length attaining 
their full range, and his soul being completed 
in all its parts for the due performance of them. 
This might be the blessed condition of every one 
of us, did we but follow from infancy what we 
know to be right ; and in Christ's early life, (if 
we may dare to speak of Him in connexion with 
ourselves,) it was fulfilled while He increased day 
by day sinlessly in wisdom as in stature, and 
in favour with God and man. But my present 
object of speaking of this gradual growth of 
holiness in the soul, is, (not to show what we 
might be, had we the heart to obey God,) but 
to show how easy obedience would in that case 
be to us ; consisting, as it would, in no irksome 
ceremonies, no painful bodily discipline, but in 
the free-will offerings of the heart, of the heart 
which had been gradually, and by very slight 
occasional efforts, trained to love what God and 
our conscience approve. 

Thus Christ's commandments, viewed as He 
enjoins them on us, are not grievous. They would 
be grievous if put upon us all at once ; but they 
are not heaped on us, according to His order of 
dispensing them, which goes upon an harmonious 
and considerate plan ; by little and little, first 

' 1 John iii. 9. 


one duty, then another, then both, and so on. 
Moreover, they come upon us, while the safeguard 
of virtuous principle is forming naturally and 
gradually in our minds by our very deeds of 
obedience, and is following them as their reward. 
Now, if men will not take their duties in Christ's 
order, but are determined to delay obedience, with 
the intention of setting about their duty some day 
or other, and then making up for past time, is it 
wonderful that they find it grievous and difficult 
to perform ? that they are overwhelmed with the 
arrears of their great work, that they are entangled 
and stumble amid the intricacies of the Divine 
system which has progressively enlarged upon 
them? And is Christ under obligation to stop 
that system, to recast His providence, to take 
these men out of their due place in the Church, 
to save them from the wheels that are crushing 
them, and to put them back again into some 
simple and more childish state of trial, where 
(though they cannot have less to unlearn) they, at 
least, may for a time have less to do. 

2. All this being granted, it still may be ob- 
jected, since (as I have allowed) the command- 
ments of God are grievous to the generality of 
men, where is the use of saying what men ought 
to be, when we know what they are f and how is 
it fulfilling a promise that His commandments 
shall not be grievous, by informing us that they 
otight not to be ? It is one thing to say that the 


Law is in itself holy, just, and good, and quite 
a different thing to declare it is not c/rievom to 
sinful man. 

In answering this question, I fully admit that 
our Saviour spoke of man as he is, as a sinner, 
when He said His yoke should be easy to him. 
Certainly, He came not to call righteous men, but 
sinners. Doubtless we are in a very different state 
from that of Adam before his fall ; and doubtless, 
in spite of this, St. John says that even to fallen 
men His commandments are not grievous. On 
the other hand I grant, that if man cannot obey 
God, obedience mmt be grievous ; and I grant too 
(of course) that man by nature cannot obey God. 
But observe, nothing has here been said, nor by 
St. John in the text, of man as by nature born in 
sin; but of man as a child of grace, as Christ's 
purchased possession, who goes before us with 
His mercy, puts the blessing first, and then adds 
the command; regenerates us and then bids us 
obey. Christ bids us do nothing that we cannot 
do. He repairs the fault of our nature, even 
before it manifests itself in act. He cleanses us 
from original sin, and rescues us from the wrath 
of God by the sacrament of baptism. He gives 
us the gift of His Spirit, and then He says, 
"What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do 
justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly 
with thy God ?" and is this grievous? 

When, then, men allege their bad nature as an 


excuse for their dislike of God's commandments, 
if, indeed, they are heathens, let them be heard, 
and an answer may be given to them even as such. 
But with heathens we are not now concerned. These 
men make their complaint as Christians^ and as 
Christians they are most unreasonable in making it ; 
God having provided a remedy for their natural in- 
capacity in the gift of His Spirit. Hear St. Paul's 
words ; " If through the offence of one many be 
dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by 
grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath 
abounded unto many .... Where sin abounded, 
grace did much more abound : that as sin hath 
reigned unto death, even so might grace reign 
through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus 
Christ our Lord'." 

And there are persons, let it never be forgotten, 
who have so followed God's leading providence 
from their youth up, that to them His command- 
ments not only are not grievous, but never have 
been : and that there are such, is the condemnation 
of all who are not such. They have been brought 
up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord^;" 
and they now live in the love and "the peace 
of God, which passeth all understanding'." Such 
are they whom our Saviour speaks of, as "just 
persons, which need no repentance*." Not that 

' Rom. V. 15—21. ' Eph. vi. 4. 

' Phil. iv. 7. * Luke xv. 7. 


they will give that account of themselves, for 
they are full well conscious in their own hearts 
of sins innumerable, and habitual infirmity. Still, 
in spite of stumblings and falls in their spiritual 
course, they have on the whole persevered. As 
children they served God on the whole; they 
disobeyed, but they recovered their lost ground; 
they sought God and were accepted. Perhaps 
their young faith gave way for a time altogether ; 
but even then they contrived with keen repentance, 
and strong disgust at sin, and earnest prayers, to 
make up for lost time, and keep pace with the 
course of God's providence. Thus they have 
walked with God, not indeed step by step with 
Him; never before Him, often loitering, stum- 
bling, falling to sleep; yet in turn starting and 
" making haste to keep His commandments," " run- 
ning, and prolonging not the time." Thus they 
proceed, not, however, of themselves, but as up- 
held by His right hand, and guiding their steps 
by His Word ; and though they have nothing 
to boast of, and know their own unworthiness, 
still they are witnesses of Christ to all men, as 
showinsr what man can become, and what all 
Christians ought to be ; and at the last day, being 
found meet for the inheritance of the saints in 
light, they "condemn the world," as Noah did, 
and become " heirs of the righteousness which 
is by faith," according to the saying, " this is 


the victory that overcometh the world, even our 

And now, to what do the remarks I have been 
making tend, but to this? — to humble every one 
of us. For, however faithfully we have obeyed 
God, and however early we began to do so, 
surely we might have begun sooner than we did, 
and might have served Him more heartily. We 
cannot but be conscious of this. Individuals 
among us may be more or less guilty, as the case 
may be; but the best and the worst among us 
here assembled, may well unite themselves to- 
gether so far as this, to confess they "have erred 
and strayed from God's ways like lost sheep," 
" have followed too much the devices and desires 
of their own hearts," have "no health" in them- 
selves as being "miserable offenders." Some of 
us may be nearer Heaven, some further from it ; 
some may have a good hope of salvation, and 
others, (God forbid ! but it may be,) others no 
present hope. Still let us unite now as one body 
in confessing, (to the better part of us such con- 
fession will be more welcome, and to the worse it 
is more needful,) in confessing ourselves sinners, 
deserving God's anger, and having no hope ex- 
cept "according to His promises declared unto 
mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord." He who 
first regenerated us and then gave His command- 
ments, and then was so ungratefully deserted by 

' 1 John V. 4. 


US, He again it is that must pardon and quicken 
us after our accumulated guilt, if we are to be 
pardoned. Let us then trace back in memory (as 
far as we can) our early years; what we were 
when five years old, when ten, when fifteen, when 
twenty ! what our state would have been as far as 
we can guess it, had God taken us to our account 
at any age before the present. I will not ask how 
it would go with us, were we now taken ; we will 
' suppose the best. 

Let each of us (I say) reflect upon his own 
most gross and persevering neglect of God at 
various seasons of his past life. How considerate 
He has been to us ! How did He shield us from 
temptation ! how did He open His will gradually 
upon us, as we might be able to bear it ' ! how 
has He done all things well, so that the spiritual 
work might go on calmly, safely, surely! How 
did He lead us on, duty by duty, as if step 
by step upwards, by the easy rounds of that ladder 
whose top reaches to Heaven ? Yet how did 
we thrust ourselves into temptation ! how did we 
refuse to come to Him that we might have life ! 
how did we daringly sin against light ! And 
what was the consequence? that our work grew 
beyond our strength ; or rather that our strength 
grew less as our duties increased ; till at length 
we gave up obedience in despair. And yet then 
He still tarried and was merciful unto us ; He 
' 1 Cor. X. 13. 


turned and looked upon us to bring us into repent- 
ance ; and we for a while were moved. Yet, 
even then our wayward hearts could not keep 
up to their own resolves : letting go again the 
heat which Christ gave them, as if made of 
stone, and not of living flesh. What could have 
been done more to His vineyard, that He hath 
not done in it ' ? "0 my people (He seems to 
say to us), what have I done unto thee? and 
wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. 
I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and 
redeemed thee out of the house of servants ; . . . . 
what doth the Lord require of thee, but justice, 
mercy, and humbleness of mind ^ ?" He hath 
showed us what is good. He has borne and carried 
us in His bosom, " lest at any time we should dash 
our foot against a stoned" He shed His Holy 
Spirit upon us that we might love Him. And 
*• this is the love of God, that we keep His com- 
mandments, and His commandments are not 
grievous." Why, then, have they been grievous 
to us ? Why have we erred from His ways, and 
hardened our hearts from His fear ? Why do we 
this day stand ashamed, yea, even confounded, 
because we bear the reproach of our youth ? 

Let us then turn to the Lord, while yet we may. 
Difficult it will be in proportion to the distance 
we have departed from Him. Since every one 
might have done more than he has done, every 

' Isaiah v. 4. ^ Micah vi. 3—8. ' Psalm xci. 12. 


one has suffered losses he never can make up. 
We have made His commands grievous to us : we 
must bear it ; let us not attempt to explain them 
away because they are grievous. We never can 
wash out the stains of sin. God may forgive, but 
the sin has had its work, and its memento is set 
up in the soul. God sees it there. Earnest obe- 
dience and prayer will gradually remove it. Still, 
what miserable loss of time is it in our brief life, 
to be merely undoing (as has become necessary) 
the evil which we have done, instead of going on 
to perfection ! If by God's grace we shall be able 
in a measure to sanctify ourselves in spite of our 
former sins, yet how much more should we have 
attained, had we always been engaged in His 
service ! 

These are bitter and humbling thoughts, but 
they are good thoughts if they lead us to repent- 
ance. And this leads me to one more observation, 
with which I conclude. 

If any one who hears me is at present moved by 
what I have said, and feels the remorse and shame 
of a bad conscience, and forms any sudden good 
resolution, let him take heed to follow it up at 
once by acting upon it. I earnestly beseech him 
so to do. For this reason ; — because if he does 
not, he is beginning a habit of inattention and in- 
sensibility. God moves us in order to make the 
beginning of duty easy. If we do not attend. He 
ceases to move us. Any of you, my brethren, 


who will not take advantage of this considerate 
providence, if you will not turn to God now with 
a warm heart, you will hereafter be obliged to do 
so (if you do so at all,) with a cold heart ; — which 
is much harder. God keep you from this ! 

VOL. I. 



Luke viii. 38, 39. 

" The man out of whom the devils were departed besought Him 
that he might be with Him ; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 
Return to thine own house, and show how great things God 
hath done unto thee." 

It is very natural in the man whom our Lord 
had set free from this dreadful visitation, to wish 
to continue with Him. Doubtless his mind was 
transported with joy and gratitude ; whatever 
consciousness he might possess of his real wretch- 
edness while the devils tormented him, now at 
least, on recovering his reason, he would under- 
stand that he had been in a very miserable state, 
and he would feel all the lightness of spirits and 
activity of mind, which attend any release from 
suffering or constraint. Under these circum- 
stances he would imagine himself to be in a 
new world ; he had found deliverance ; and what 
was more, a Deliverer too, who stood before 
him. And whether from a wish to be ever in 


His divine presence ministering to Him, or from 
a fear lest Satan would return, nay, with seven- 
fold power, did he lose sight of Christ, or from an 
undefined notion that all his duties and hopes 
were now changed, that his former pursuits were 
unworthy of him, and that he must follow up 
some great undertakings with the new ardour 
he felt glowing within him ; — from one or other, 
or all of these feelings combined, he besought our 
Lord that he might be with Him. Christ im- 
posed this attendance as a command on others; 
He bade, for instance, the young ruler follow 
Him ; but He gives opposite commands, according - 
to our tempers and likings ; He thwarts us, that ; \ 
He may try our faith. In the case before us He 
suffered not, what at other times He had bidden. 
" Return to thine own house," He said, or as it is 
in St. Mark's Gospel, "Go home to thy friends, 
and tell them how great things the Lord hath 
done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee'." 
He directed the current of his newly-awakened 
feelings into another channel ; as if He said, 
" Lovest thou Me ? this do ; return home to your 
old occupations and pursuits. You did them ill 
before, you lived to the world; do them well 
now, live to Me. Do your duties, little as well 
as great, heartily for My sake; go among your 
friends ; show them what God hath done for thee ; 

» Mark v. 19. 



be an example to them, and teach them'." And 
further, as He said on another occasion, " Show 
thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses 
commanded, for a testimony unto them^" — show 
forth that greater light and truer love which you 
now possess in a conscientious, consistent obe- 
dience to all the ordinances and rites of your 

Now from this account of the restored demo- 
niac, his request, and our Lord's denial of it, a 
lesson may be drawn for the use of those who, 
having neglected religion in early youth, at length 
begin to have serious thoughts, try to repent, and 
wish to serve God better than hitherto, though they 
do not well know how to set about it. We know 
that God's commandments are pleasant and " rejoice 
the heart," if we accept them in the order and 
manner in which He puts them upon us; that 
Christ's yoke, as He has promised, is (on the whole) 
very easy, if we submit to it betimes ; that the 
practice of religion is full of comfort to those who, 
being first baptized with the Spirit of grace, receive 
thankfully His influences as their minds open, in- 
asmuch as they are gradually and almost without 
sensible effort on their part, imbued in all their 
heart, soul, and strength, with that true heavenly 
life which will last for ever. 

But here the question meets us, " But what are 

* Col. iii. 17. ' Matt, viii.4. 


those to do who have neglected to remember their 
Creator in the days of their youth, and so have 
lost all claim on Christ's promise, that His yoke 
shall be easy, and His commandments not griev- 
ous ? I answer, that of course they must not be 
surprised if obedience is with them a laborious up- 
hill work all their days ; nay, as having been " once 
enlightened, and partaken of the Holy Ghost " in 
baptism, they would have no right to complain 
even though " it were impossible for them to renew 
themselves again unto repentance." But God is 
more merciful than this just severity; merciful 
not only above our deservings, but even above His 
own promises. Even for those who have neglected 
Him when young, He has found (if they will 
avail themselves of it,) some sort of remedy of the 
difficulties in the way of obedience which they have 
brought upon themselves by sinning; and what 
this remedy is, and how it is to be used, I proceed 
to describe in connexion with the account in the 

The help T speak of is the excited^eellng with 
which repentance is at first attended. True it is, 
that all the passionate emotion, or fine sensibility, 
which ever man displayed, will never by itself 
make us change our ways, and do our duty. 
Impassioned thoughts, high aspirations, sublime 
imaginings, have no strength in them. They can 
no more make a man obey consistently, than they 
can move mountains. If any man truly repent, 


it must be in consequence, not of these, but of 
a settled conviction of his guilt, and a deliberate 
resolution to leave his sins and serve God. Con- 
science, and Reason in subjection to Conscience, 
these are those powerful instruments (under grace) 
which change a man. But you will observe, that 
though Conscience and Reason lead us to resolve 
on and to attempt a new life, they cannot at once 
make us love it. It is long practice and habit 
w^hich make us love religion ; and in the beginning, 
obedience, doubtless, is very grievous to habitual 
sinners. Here then is the use of those earnest, 
ardent feelings of which I just spoke, and which 
attend on the first exercise of conscience and 

!. reason, — to take away from the beginnings of obe- 
•dience its grievousness, to give us an impulse 
4 which may carry us over the first obstacles, and 
send us on our way rejoicing. Not as if all this 
excitement of mind were to last, (which cannot 
be,) but it will do its office in thus setting us off; 
and then will leave us to the more sober and 
higher comfort resulting from that real love for 
religion, which obedience itself will have by that 
time begun to form in us, and will gradually go on 
to perfect. 

Now it is well to understand this fully, for it is 
often mistaken. When sinners are led to think 
seriously, stronger feelings generally precede or 
attend their reflections about themselves. Some 
book they have read, some conversation of a 


friend, some remarks they have heard made in 
church, or some occurrence or misfortune, rouses 
them. Or, on the other hand, if in any more 
calm and deliberate manner they have com- 
menced their self-examination, yet in a little time 
the very view of their manifold sins, of their 
guilt, and their heinous ingratitude to their God 
and Saviour, breaking upon them, and being new 
to them, strikes, and astonishes, and then agitates 
them. Here, then, let them know the intention 
of all this excitement of mind in the order of 
Divine providence. It will not continue ; it 
arises from the novelty of the view presented to 
them. As they become accustomed to religious 
contemplations, it will wear away. It is not reli- 
gion itself, though it is accidentally connected 
with it, and may be made a means of leading 
them into a sound religious course of life. It is 
graciously intended to be a set-off in their case 
against the first distastefulness and pain of doing 
their duty ; it must be used as such, or it will be 
of no use at all, or worse than useless. My breth- 
ren, bear this in mind, (and I may say this 
generally, not confining myself to the excitement 
which attends repentance, but of all that natural 
emotion prompting us to do good, which we 
involuntarily feel on various occasions,) it is given 
you in order that you may find it easy to obey 
at starting. Therefore obey promptly ; make use 
of it whilst it lasts ; it waits for no man. Do you 


feel natural pity towards some case which rea- 
sonably demands your charity ? or the impulse 
of generosity in a case where you are called to 
act a manly self-denying part? Whatever the 
emotion may be, whether these or any other, do 
not imagine you will always feel it. Whether 
you avail yourselves of it or not, still any how you 
will feel less and less, and, as life goes on, at 
last will not feel such sudden vehement excite- 
ment at all. But this is the difference between 
seizing or letting slip these opportunities ; — if you 
avail yourselves of them for acting, and yield to 
the impulse so far as conscience tells you to do, 
you have made a leap (so to say) across a gulf, 
to which your ordinary strength is not equal ; 
you will have secured the beginning of obedience, 
and the further steps in the course are (generally 
speaking) far easier than those which first deter- 
mine its direction. And so, to return to the case 
of those who feel any accidental remorse for their 
sins violently exerting itself in their hearts, I say 
to them. Do not loiter ; go home to your friends, 
and repent in deeds of righteousness and love; 
hasten to commit yourselves to certain definite 
acts of obedience. Doing is at a far greater dis- 
tance from intending to do than you at first sight 
imagine. Join them together while you can ; you 
will be depositing your good feelings into your 
heart itself by thus making them influence your 
conduct ; and they will " spring up into fruit." 


This was the conduct of the conscience-stricken 
Corinthians, as described by St. Paul; who re- 
joiced " not that they were made sorry, (not that 
their feelings merely were moved,) but that they 
sorrowed to change of mind . . . For godly sorrow 
(he continues) worketh repentance to salvation not 
to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world 
worketh death \" 

But now let us ask, how do men usually conduct 
themselves in matter of fact, when under visitings 
of conscience for their past sinful lives ? They 
are far from thus acting. They look upon the 
turbid zeal and feverish devotion which attend 
their repentance, not as in part the corrupt off- 
spring of their own previously corrupt state of 
mind, and partly a gracious natural provision, 
only temporary, to encourage them to set about 
their reformation, but as the substance and real 
excellence of religion. They think that to be thus 
agitated is to be religious; they indulge them- 
selves in these warm feelings for their own sake, 
resting in them as if they were then engaged 
in a religious exercise, and boasting of them as 
if they were an evidence of their own exalted 
spiritual state ; not usitiff them, (the one only 
thing they ought to do,) using them as an incite- 
ment to deeds of love, mercy, truth, meekness, 
holiness. After they have indulged this luxury 

' 2 Cor. vii. 9, 10. 


of feeling for some time, the excitement of 
course ceases ; they do not feel as they did 
before. This (I have said) might have been 
anticipated, but they do not understand it so. 
See then their unsatisfactory state. They have 
lost an opportunity of overcoming the first diffi- 
culties of active obedience, and so of fixing their 
conduct and character, which may never occur 
again. This is one great misfortune ; but more 
than this, what a perplexity they have involved 
themselves in ! Their warmth of feeling is gra- 
dually dying away. Now they think that in it 
true religion consists; therefore they believe that 
they are losing their faith, and falling into sin 

And this, alas ! is too often the case : they do 
fall away, for they have no root in themselves. 
Having neglected to turn their feelings into prin- 
ciples by acting upon them, they have no inward 
strength to overcome the temptation to live as the 
world, which continually assails them. Their minds 
have been acted upon as water by the wind, which 
raises waves for a time, then ceasing, leaves the 
water to subside into its former stagnant state. 
The precious opportunity of improvement has been 
lost ; " and the latter end is worse with them than 
the beginning \" 

But let us suppose, that when they first detect 

' 2 Pet. ii. 20. 


this declension (as they consider it,) they are 
alarmed, and look around for a means of recover- 
ing themselves. What do they do ? Do they at 
once begin those practices of lowly obedience 
which alone can prove them to be Christ's at the 
last day ? such as the government of their tempers, 
the regulation of their time, self-denying charity, 
truth-telling sobriety. Far from it ; they despise 
this plain obedience to God as a mere unenlight- 
ened morality, as they call it, and they seek for 
potent stimulants to continue their minds in that 
state of excitement which they have been taught 
to consider the essence of a religious life, and which 
they cannot produce by the means which before 
excited them. They have recourse to new doc- 
trines, or follow strange teachers, in order that 
they may dream on in this their artificial de- 
votion, and may avoid that conviction which 
is likely sooner or later to burst upon them, 
that emotion and passion are in our power in- 
deed to re press, but not to e.rcite ; that there is 
a limit to the tumults and swellings of the 
heart, foster them as we will ; and, when that 
time comes, the poor, mis-used soul is left ex- 
hausted and resourceless. Instances are not rare 
in the world of that fearful, ultimate state of 
hard-heaitednes^ which then succeeds ; when the 
miserable sinner believes indeed as the devils may, 
yet not even with the devils' trembling, but sins on 
without fear. 


Others, again, there are, who, when their feel- 
ings fall off in strength and fervency, are led 
to despond ; and so are brought down to fear 
and bondage, when they might have been re- 
joicing in cheerful obedience. These are the better 
sort, who, having something of true religious prin- 
ciple in their hearts, still are misled in part, so 
far, that is, as to rest in their feelings as tests of 
holiness ; therefore they are distressed and alarmed 
at their own tranquillity, which they think a bad 
sign, and, being dispirited, lose time, others out- 
stripping them in the race. 

And others might be mentioned who are led by 
this same first eagerness and zeal into a different 
error. The restored sufferer in the text wished to 
be with Christ. Now it is plain, all those who in- 
dulge themselves in the false devotion I have been 
describing, may be said to be desirous of thus 
keeping themselves in Christ's immediate sight, 
instead of returning to their own home, as He 
would have them, that is, to the common duties 
of life : and they do this, some from weakness 
of faith, as if He could not bless them, and keep 
them in the way of grace, though they pursued 
their worldly callings ; others from an ill-directed 
love of Him. But there are others, I say, who, 
when they are awakened to a sense of religion, 
forthwith despise their former condition altogether, 
as beneath them ; and think that they are now 
called to some high and singular office in the 


Church. These mistake their duty as those already 
described neglect it ; they do not waste their 
time in mere good thoughts and good words, 
as the others, but they are impetuously led on to 
wrong acts, and that from the influence of those 
same strong emotions which they have not learned 
to use aright or direct to their proper end. But to 
speak of these now at any length would be beside 
my subject. 

To conclude ; — let me repeat and urge upon 
you, my brethren, the lesson which I have de- 
duced from the narrative of which the text forms 
part. Your Saviour calls you from infancy to 
serve Him, and has arranged all things well, so 
that His service shall be perfect freedom. Blessed 
above all men are they who heard His call then, 
and served Him day by day, as their strength 
to obey increased. But further, are you con- 
scious that you have more or less neglected this 
gracious opportunity, and suffered yourselves to 
be tormented by Satan ? See, He calls you a 
second time ; He calls you by your roused affec- 
tions once and again, ere He leave you finally. 
He brings you back for the time (as it were) to 
a second youth by the urgent persuasions of ex- 
cited fear, gratitude, love, and hope. He again 
places you for an instant in that early, unformed 
state of nature when habit and character were 
not. He takes you out of yourselves, robbing 
sin for a season of its in-dwelling hold upon 


you. Let not those visitings pass away " as the 
morning cloud and the early dew '." Surely, you 
must still have occasional compunctions of con- 
science for your neglect of Him. Your sin stares 
you in the face ; your ingratitude to God affects 
you. Follow on to know the Lord, and to se- 
cure His favour by acting upon these impulses; 
by them He pleads with you, as well as by 
your conscience ; they are the instruments of His 
Spirit, stirring you up to seek your true peace. 
Nor be surprised, though you obey them, that 
they die away ; they have done their office, and if 
they die, it is but as blossom changes into the 
fruit, which is far better. They must die. Perhaps 
you will have to labour in darkness afterwards, 
out of your Saviour's sight, in the home of your 
own thoughts, surrounded by sights of this world, 
and showing forth His praise among those who 
/ are cold-hearted. Still be quite sure that reso- 
I lute, consistent obedience, though unattended with 

* high transport and warm emotion, is far more 

• acceptable to Him than all those passionate 
longings to live in His sight, which look more 

' like religion to the uninstructed. At the very 
best these latter are but the graceful beginnings 
of obedience, graceful and becoming in children, 
but in grown spiritual men indecorous, as the 
sports of boyhood would be in advanced years. 

' Hosea vi. 4. 


Learn to live by faith, which is a calm, deliberate, 
rational principle, full of peace and comfort, and 
sees Christ, and rejoices in Him, though sent away 
from His presence to labour in the world. You 
will have your reward. He will "see you again, 
and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man 
taketh from you." 



Luke xii. 1. 

" When there were gathered together an innumerable multitude 
of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, He 
began to say unto His disciples first of all, Beware ye of the 
leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." 

Hypocrisy is a serious word. We are accustomed 
to consider the hypocrite as a hateful, despicable 
character, and an uncommon one. How is it, then, 
that our Blessed Lord, when surrounded by an in- 
numerable multitude, began first of all, to warn His 
disciples against hypocrisy, as though they were in 
especial danger of becoming like those base de- 
ceivers, the Pharisees ? Thus an instructive sub- 
ject is opened to our consideration, which I will 
now pursue. 

I say, we are accustomed to consider the hypo- 
crite as a character of excessive wickedness, and 
of very rare occurrence. That hypocrisy is a 
great wickedness need not be questioned ; but 
that it is an uncommon sin, is not true, as a little 


examination will show us. For what is a hypo- 
crite? We are apt to understand by a hypocrite, 
one who makes a profession of religion for secret 
ends, without practising what he professes; who 
is malevolent, covetous, or profligate, while he 
assumes an outward sanctity in his words and 
conduct, and who does so deliberately and with- 
out remorse, deceiving others, and not at all self- 
deceived. Such a man, truly, would be a portent, 
for he seems to disbelieve the existence of a God 
who sees the heart. I will not deny that in some 
ages, nay, in all ages, a few such men have existed. 
But this is not what our Saviour seems to have 
meant by a hypocrite, nor were the Pharisees 

The Pharisees, it is true, said one thing and 
did another; but they were not aware that they 
were thus inconsistent ; they deceived themselves 
as well as others. Indeed, it is not in human 
nature to deceive others for any long time, with- 
out in a measure deceiving ourselves also. And 
in most cases we contrive to deceive ourselves 
as much as we deceive others. The Pharisees 
boasted they were Abraham's children, not at all 
understanding, not knowing what was implied in 
the term. They were not really included under 
the blessing given to Abraham, and they wished 
the world to believe they were; but then they 
also themselves thought that they were, or, at 
least, with whatever misgivings, they were, on the 

VOL. I. L 


whole, persuaded of it. They had deceived them- 
selves as well as the world ; and therefore our 
Lord sets before them the great and plain truth, 
which, simple as it was, they had forgotten. " If 
ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the 
works of Abraham'." 

This truth, I say, they had forgotten ; — for 
doubtless, they once knew it. There was a time 
doubtless, when in some measure they knew 
themselves, and what they were doing. When 
they began (each of them in his turn) to deceive 
the people, they were not, at the moment, self- 
deceived. But by degrees they forgot, — because 
they did not care to retain it in their knowledge, 
— they forgot that to be blessed like Abraham, 
they must be holy like Abraham ; that outward 
ceremonies avail nothing without inward purity, 
that their thoughts and motives must be heavenly. 
Part of their duty they altogether ceased to know ; 
another part they might still know indeed, but did 
not value as they ought. They became ignorant 
of tlieir own spiritual condition ; it did not come 
home to them, that they were supremely influ- 
enced by worldly objects ; that zeal for God's 
service was but a secondary principle in their 
conduct, and that they loved the praise of men 
better than God's praise. They went on merely 
talking of religion, of heaven and hell, the blessed 

' John viii. 39. 


and the reprobate, till their discourses became 
but words of course in their mouths, with no true 
meaning attached to them; and they either did 
not read Holy Scripture at all, or read it without 
earnestness and watchfulness to get at its real 
sense. Accordingly, they were scrupulously care- 
ful of paying tithe even in the least matters, of 
mint, anise, and cummin, while they omitted the 
weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, 
and faith ; and on this account our Lord calls 
them " blind guides," — not bold impious deceivers, 
who knew that they were false guides, but blind '. 
Again, they were blind, in thinking that, had 
they lived in their fathers' days, they would not 
have killed the prophets as their fathers did. 
They did not know themselves ; they had un- 
awares deceived themselves as well as the people. 
Ignorance of their own ignorance was their punish- 
ment and the evidence of their sin. " If ye were 
blind," our Saviour says to them, if you were 
simply blind, and conscious you were so, and dis- 
tressed at it, '• ye should have no sin ; but now 
ye say, We see," — they did not even know their 
blindness — " therefore your sin remaineth ^" 

This then is hypocrisy ; — not simply for a man 
to deceive others, knowing all the while that he 
is deceiving them, but to deceive himself and 
others at the same time, to aim at their praise by 

' Matt, xxiii. 24. Luke xi. 39 — 52. 

* John ix. 41. Vide James i. 22. 

L 2 


a religious profession, without perceiving that he 
loves their praise more than the praise of God, and 
that he is professing far more than he practises. 
And if this be the true Scripture meaning of the 
word, we have some insight (as it appears) into 
the reasons which induced our Divine Teacher to 
warn His Disciples in so marked a way against 
hypocrisy. An innumerable multitude was throng- 
ing Him, and His disciples were around Him. 
Twelve of them had been appointed to minister 
to Him as His especial friends. Other seventy 
had been sent out from Him with miraculous 
gifts; and, on their return, had with triumph 
told of their own wonderful doings. All of them 
had been addressed by Him as the salt of the 
earth, the light of the world, the children of His 
kingdom. They were the mediators between Him 
and the people at large, introducing to His notice 
the sick and heavy-laden. And now they stood 
by Him, partaking in His popularity, perhaps 
glorying in their connexion with the Christ, 
and pleased to be gazed upon by the impatient 
crowd. Then it was that, instead of addressing 
the multitude. He spoke first of all to His disci- 
ples, saying, " Beware of the leaven of the Pha- 
risees, which is hypocrisy;" as if He had said, 
" What is the chief sin of My enemies and perse- 
cutors ? not that they openly deny God, but that 
they love a profession of religion for the sake of 
the praise of men that follows it. They like to 


contrast themselves with other men; they pride 
themselves on being a little flock, to whom life is 
secured in the midst of reprobates ; they like to 
stand and be admired amid their religious per- 
formances, and think to be saved, not by their 
own personal holiness, but by the faith of their 
father Abraham. All this delusion may come 
upon you also, if you forget that you are hereafter 
to be tried one by one at God's judgment-seat, 
according to your works. At present, indeed, 
you are invested in My greatness, and have the 
credit of My teaching and holiness : but ' there 
is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, 
neither hid, that shall not be known,' at the last 

This warning against hypocrisy becomes still 
more needful and impressive, from the greatness 
of the Christian privileges as contrasted with the 
Jewish. The Pharisees boasted they were Abra- 
ham's children ; we have the infinitely higher 
blessing which fellowship with Christ imparts. 
In our infancy we have all been gifted with the 
most awful and glorious titles, as children of 
God, members of Christ, and heirs of the king- 
dom of heaven. We have been honoured with 
the grant of spiritual influences, which have over- 
shadowed and rested upon us, making our very 
bodies temples of God ; and when we came to 
years of discretion, we were admitted to the mys- 
tery of a heavenly communication of the Body 


and Blood of Christ. What is more likely, con- 
sidering our perverse nature, than that we should 
neglect the duties, while we wish to retain the 
privileges of our Christian profession ? Our Lord 
has sorrowfully foretold in His parables what was 
to happen in His Church ; for instance, when He 
compared it to a net which gathered of every 
kind, but not inspected till the end, and then 
emptied of its various contents, good and bad. 
Till the day of visitation the visible Church will 
ever be full of such hypocrites as I have described, 
who live on under her shadow, enjoying the name 
of Christian, and vainly fancying they will partake 
its ultimate blessedness. 

Perhaps, however, it will be granted that there 
are vast numbers in the Christian world thus 
professing without adequately practising ; and yet 
denied, that such a case is enough to constitute 
a hypocrite in the Scripture sense of the word ; 
as if a hypocrite were one who professes him- 
self to be what he is not, with some bad motive. 
It may be urged that the Pharisees had an end 
in what they did, which careless and formal 
Christians have not. But consider for a moment 
what was the motive which urged the Pharisees to 
their hypocrisy ? surely that they might be seen 
of men, have glory of men '. This is our Lord's 
own account of them. Now who will say that the 

' Matt. vi. 2. 5. 


esteem and fear of the world's judgment, and the 
expectation of worldly advantages, do not at pre- 
sent most powerfully influence the generality of 
men in their profession of Christianity ? so much 
so, that it is a hard matter, and is thought a great 
and noble act for men who live in the public 
world to do what they believe to be their duty 
to God, in a straightforward way, should the 
opinion of society about it happen to run counter 
to them. Indeed, there hardly has been a time 
since the Apostles' day, in which men were more 
likely than in this age to do their good deeds to 
be seen of men, to lay out for human praise, and 
therefore to shape their actions by the world's rule 
rather than God's will. We ought to be very 
suspicious, every one of us, of the soundness of our 
faith and virtue. Let us consider whether we 
should act as strictly as we now do, were the eyes 
of our acquaintance and neighbours withdrawn 
from us. Not that a regard to the opinion of 
others is a bad motive; in subordination to the 
fear of God's judgment, it is innocent and allow- 
able, and in many cases a duty to admit it ; and 
the opportunity of doing so is a gracious gift given 
from God to lead us forward in the right way. 
But when we prefer man's fallible judgment to 
God's unerring command, then it is we are wrong, 
— and in two ways ; both became we prefer it, and 
because, being fallible, it will mislead us ; and what 
I am asking you, my brethren, is, not whether 


you merely regard man's opinion of you, (which 
you ought to do,) but whether you set it before 
God's judgment, which you assuredly should not 
do, — and which if you do, you are like the Phari- 
sees, so far as to be hypocrites, though you may not 
go so far as they did in their hollow self-deceiving 

1. That even decently conducted Christians 
are most extensively and fearfully ruled by the 
opinion of society about them, instead of living by 
faith in the unseen God, is proved to my mind 
by the following circumstance ; — that according as 
their rank in life makes men independent of the 
judgment of others, so the profession of regularity 
and strictness is given up. There are two classes 
of men who are withdrawn from the judgment of 
the community ; those who are above it, and those 
who are below it ; — the poorest class of all, 
which has no thought of maintaining itself by its 
own exertions, and has lost shame ; and what is 
called (to use a word of this world) high fashion- 
able society, by which I mean not the rich 
necessarily, but those among the rich and noble 
who throw themselves out of the pale of the 
community, break the ties which attach them to 
others, whether above or below themselves, and 
then live to themselves and each other, their 
ordinary doings being unseen by the world at 
large. Now since it happens that these two ranks, 
the outlaws, as they may be called, of public opinion. 



are (to speak generally) the most openly and 
daringly profligate in their conduct, how much 
may be thence inferred about the influence of a 
mere love of reputation in keeping us all in the 
right way ! It is plain, as a matter of fact, that 
the great mass of men are protected from gross 
sin by the forms of society. The received laws of 
propriety and decency, the prospect of a loss of cha- 
racter, stand as sentinels, giving the alarm, long 
before their Christian principles have time to act. 
But among the poorest and rudest class, on the con- 
trary, such artificial safeguards against crime are 
unknown ; and (observe I say) it is among them 
and that other class I have mentioned, that vice 
and crime are most frequent. Are we, therefore, 
better than they? Scarcely. Doubtless their 
temptations are greater, which alone prevents our 
boasting over them ; but, besides, do we not rather 
gain from the sight of their more scandalous sins a 
grave lesson and an urgent warning for ourselves, 
a call on us for honest self-examination ? for we 
are of the same nature, with like passions with 
them ; we may be better than they, but our mere 
seeming so is no proof that we are. The question 
is, whether, in spite of our greater apparent virtue, 
we should not fall like them, if the restraint of 
society were withdrawn ; i. e. whether we are not in 
the main hypocrites like the Pharisees, professing 
to honour God, while ue honour Him only so far as 
men require it of us ? 


2. Another test of being like or unlike the 
Pharisees may be mentioned. Our Lord warns 
us against hypocrisy in three respects, — in doing 
our alms, in praying, and in fasting. " When 
thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet 
before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues 
and in the streets, that they may have glory of 
men .... When thou prayest thou shalt not be 
as the hypocrites are : for they love to pray standing 
in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, 
that they may be seen of men .... When ye 
fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, 
for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear 
unto men to fast'." Here let us ask ourselves, 
first about our alms, whether we be not like the 
hypocrites. Doubtless some of our charity must 
be public, for the very mentioning our name 
encourages others to follow our example. Still I 
ask, is much of our charity also private f is as 
much private as is public ? I will not ask whether 
much more is done in secret than is done before 
men, though this, if possible, ought to be the case. 
But at least, if we think in the first place of our 
public charities, and only in the second of the duty 
of private alms-giving, are we not plainly like the 
hypocritical Pharisees ? 

The manner of our prayers will supply us with 
a still stronger test. We are here assembled in 

• Matt. vi. 2—16. 


worship. It is well. Have we really been praying 
as well as seeming to pray ? have our minds been 
actively employed in trying to form in us the diffi- 
cult habit of prayer ? Further, are we as regular 
in praying in our closet to our Father which is in 
secret, as in public ' ? Do we feel any great remorse 
in omitting our morning and evening prayers, in 
saying them hastily and irreverently? And yet 
should not we feel excessive pain and shame, and 
rightly, at the thought of having committed any 
open impropriety in church ? Should we, for in- 
stance, be betrayed into laughter or other light 
conduct during the service, should not we feel most 
acutely ashamed of ourselves, and consider we had 
disgraced ourselves, notwithstanding our habit of 
altogether forgetting the next moment any sinful 
carelessness at prayer in our closet ? Is not this to 
be as the Pharisees ? 

Take, again, the case of fasting. Alas ! most 
of us, I fear, do not think at all of fasting. We 
do not even let it enter our thoughts, nor debate 
with ourselves, whether or not it be needful or 
suitable for us to fast, or in any way mortify 
our flesh. Well, this is one neglect of Christ's 
words. But again, neither do we disfigure our 
outward appearance to seem to fast, which the 
Pharisees did. Here we seem to differ from the 
Pharisees. Yet, in truth, this very apparent differ- 

' Matt. vi. 6. 


ence is a singular confirmation of our real likeness 
to them. Austerity gained them credit ; it would 
gain us none. It would gain us little more than 
mockery from the world. The age is changed. 
In Christ's time the show of fasting made men 
appear saints in the eyes of the many. See then 
what we do. We keep up the outward show of 
almsgiving and public worship, — observances which 
(it so happens) the world approves. We have 
dropped the show of fasting, which (it so happens) 
the world at the present day derides. Are we 
quite sure that if fasting were in honour, we 
should not begin to hold fasts, as the Pharisees? 
Thus we seek the praise of men. But in all this, 
how are we, in any good measure, following GofTs 
guidance and promises ? 

We see, then, how seasonable is our Lord's 
warning to us. His disciples, first of all, to beware 
of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy : 
professing without practising. He warns us against 
it as leaven, as a subtle insinuating evil which 
will silently spread itself throughout the whole 
character, if we suffer it. He warns us, His dis- 
ciples, lovingly considerate for us, lest we make 
ourselves a scorn and derision to the profane mul- 
titude, who throng around to gaze curiously, or 
malevolently, or selfishly, at His doings. They 
seek Him, not as adoring Him for His miracles' 
sake, but, if so be, they can obtain any thing from 
Him, or can please their natural tastes while they 


profess to honour Him ; and in time of trial they 
desert Him. They make a gain of godliness, or 
a fashion. So He speaks not to them^ but to us, 
His little flock. His Church, to whom it has been 
His Father's good pleasure to give the kingdom ' ; 
and He bids us take heed of falling, as the Pha- 
risees did before us, and like them coming short 
of our reward. He warns us that the pretence of 
religion never deceives beyond a little time ; that 
sooner or later, "whatsoever we have spoken in 
darkness shall be heard in the light, and that 
which we have spoken in the ear in closets, shall 
be proclaimed upon the house-tops." Even in 
this world the discovery is often made. A man 
is brought into temptation of some sort or other, 
and having no root in himself falls away, and 
gives occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blas- 
pheme. Nay, this will happen to him without 
himself being aware of it; for though a man 
begins to deceive others before he deceives him- 
self, yet he does not deceive them so long as he 
deceives himself. Their eyes are at length opened 
to him, while his own continue closed to him- 
self. The world sees through him; detects, and 
triumphs in detecting, his low motives and secular 
plans and artifices, while he is but very faintly 
sensible of them himself, much less has a notion 
that others clearly see them. And thus he will go 

' Luke xii. 32. 


on professing the highest principles and feeHngs, 
while bad men scorn him, and insult true religion 
in his person. 

Do not think I am speaking of one or two men, 
when T speak of the scandal which a Christian's 
inconsistency brings upon his cause. The Chris- 
tian world, so called, what is it practically, but a 
witness for Satan rather than a witness for Christ ? 
Rightly understood, doubtless the very disobe- 
dience of Christians witnesses for Him who will 
overcome whenever He is judged. But is there 
any antecedent prejudice against religion so great 
as that which is occasioned by the lives of its 
professors? Let us ever remember, that all who 
follow God with but a half heart, strengthen the 
hands of His enemies, give cause of exultation to 
wicked men, perplex inquirers after truth, and 
bring reproach upon their Saviour's name. It is 
a known fact, that unbelievers triumphantly main- 
tain that the greater part of the English people 
is on their side; that the disobedience of pro- 
fessing Christians is a proof, that (whatever they 
say) yet in their hearts they are unbelievers too. 
This we ourselves perhaps have heard said ; and 
said, not in the heat of argument, or as a satire, 
but in sober earnestness, from real and full per- 
suasion that it is true ; that is, the men who 
have cast off their Saviour, console themselves 
with the idea, that their neighbours, though too 
timid or too indolent openly to do so, yet in 


secret, or at least in their real character, do the 
same. And witnessing this general inconsistency, 
they despise them as unmanly, cowardly, and 
slavish, and hate religion as the origin of this 
debasement of mind. "The people who in this 
country call tliemselves Christians, (says one of 
these men,) with few exceptions, are not believers ; 
and every man of sense, whose bigotry has not 
blinded him, must see that persons who are evi- 
dently devoted to worldly gain, or worldly vanities^ 
or luxurious enjoyments, though still preserving a 
little decency, while they 'pretend to believe the 
infinitely momentous doctrines of Christianity, are 
performers in a miserable farce, which is beneath 
contempt." Such are the words of an open enemy 
of Christ ; as though he felt he dared confess his 
unbelief, and despised the mean hypocrisy of those 
around him. His argument, indeed, will not en- 
dure the trial of God's judgment at the last day, 
for no one is an unbeliever but by his own fault. 
But though no excuse for him, it is their con- 
demnation. What, indeed, will they plead before 
the Throne of God, when, on the revelation of all 
hidden deeds, this re viler of religion attributes 
his unbelief in a measure to the sight of their 
inconsistent conduct ? When he mentions this 
action or that conversation, this violent or worldly 
conduct, that covetous or unjust transaction, or 
that self-indulgent life, as partly the occasion of 
his falling away? "Woe unto the world (it is 


written), because of scandals; for it must needs 
be that scandals come, but woe to that man hy 
whom the scandal comethM" Woe unto the de- 
ceiver and self-deceived! "His hope shall perish; 
his hope shall be cut off, and his trust shall be 
a spider's web : he shall lean upon his house, but it 
shall not stand ; he shall hold it fast, but it shall 
not endured" God give us grace to flee from this 
woe while we have time ! Let us examine our- 
selves, to see if there be any wicked way in us; let 
us aim at obtaining some comfortable assurance 
that we are in the narrow way that leads to life. 
And let us pray God to enlighten us, and to guide 
us, and to give us the will to please Him, and the 

' Matt, xviii. 7. ' Job viii. 13—15. 



Galatians iii. 27. 

" As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put 
on Christ." 

It is surely most necessary to beware, as our 
Lord solemnly bids us, of the leaven of the Pha- 
risees, which is hypocrisy. We may be infected 
with it, even though we are not conscious of our 
insincerity; for they did not Icnow they were 
hypocrites. Nor need we have any definite bad 
object plainly before us, for they had none, — only 
the vague desire to be seen and honoured by the 
world, such as may influence us. So it would 
seem, that there are vast multitudes of Pharisaical 
hypocrites among baptized Christians; i. e. men 
professing without practising. Nay, so far we 
may be called hypocritical, one and all; for no 
Christian on earth altogether lives^ up to his pro- 

But here some one may ask, whether in saying 

VOL. I. M 


that hypocrisy is professing without practising, 
I am not, in fact, overthrowing all external reli- 
gion from the foundation, since all creeds, and 
prayers, and ordinances, go beyond the real belief 
and frame of mind of even the best Christians. 
This is even the ground which some men actually 
take. They say that it is wrong to baptize, and 
call Christians, those who have not yet shown 
themselves to be really such. " As many as are 
baptized into Christ, put on Christ ;" so says the 
text, and these men argue from it, that till we 
have actually put on Christ, that is, till we have 
given our heart to Christ's service, and in our 
degree become holy as He is holy, it can do no 
good to be baptized into His name. Rather it is 
a great evil, for it is to become hypocrites. Nay, 
really humble, well-intentioned men, feel this 
about themselves. They shrink from retaining the 
blessed titles and privileges which Christ gave 
them in infancy, as being unworthy of them ; and 
they fear lest they are really hypocrites like 
the Pharisees, after all their better thoughts and 

Now the obvious answer to this mistaken view 
of religion is to say, that, on the showing of such 
reasoners, no one at all ought to be baptized in any 
case, and called a Christian ; for no one acts up to 
his baptismal profession ; no one believes, wor- 
ships, and obeys duly, the Father, Son, and Holy 
Ghost, whose servant he is made in baptism. 


And yet the Lord did say, " Go, baptize all 
nations ;" clearly showing us, that a man may be a 
fit subject for baptism, though he does not in fact 
practise every thing that he professes, and there- 
fore, that any fears we may have, lest men should 
be in some sense like the Pharisees, must not keep 
us from making them Christians. 

But I shall treat the subject more at length, in 
order that we may understand what kind of dis- 
obedience is really hypocrisy, and what is not, 
lest timid consciences should be frightened. Now 
men profess without feeling and doing, or are 
hypocrites in nothing so much as in their prayers. 
This is plain. Prayer is the most directly reli- 
gious of all our duties ; and our falling short of 
our duty, is, then, most clearly displayed. There- 
fore I will enlarge upon the case of prayer, to 
explain what I do 7iot mean by hypocrisy. We 
then use the most solemn words, either without 
attending to what we are saying, or (even if we do 
attend,) without worthily entering into its meaning. 
Thus we seem to resemble the Pharisees ; a ques- 
tion in consequence arises, whether, this being the 
case, we should go on repeating prayers which 
evidently do not suit us. The men I just now 
spoke of, affirm that we ought to leave them off. 
Accordingly, such persons in their own case first 
give up the Church prayers, and take to others 
which they think will suit them better. Next, 
when these disappoint them, they have recourse 

M 2 


to what is called extempore prayer; and after- 
wards perhaps, discontented in turn with this mode 
of addressing Almighty God, and as unable to fix 
their thoughts as they were before, they come to 
the conclusion that they ought not to pray, except 
when specially moved to prayer by the influence of 
the Holy Spirit. 

Now, in answer to such a manner of reasoning 
and acting, I would maintain that no one is to be 
reckoned a Pharisee or hypocrite in his prayers 
who tries not to be one, — who aims at knowing 
and correcting himself, — and who is accustomed to 
pray, though not perfectly, yet not indolently or 
in a self-satisfied way ; however lamentable his 
actual wanderings of mind may be, or, again, how- 
ever poorly he enters into the meaning of his 
prayers, even when he attends to them. 

1. First take the case of not being attentive to 
the prayers. Men, it seems, are tempted to leave 
off prayers because they cannot follow them, be- 
cause they find their thoughts wander when they 
repeat them. I answer, that to pray attentively 
is a habit. This must ever be kept in mind. No 
one begins with having his heart thoroughly in 
them ; but by trying, he is enabled to attend 
more and more, and at length, after many trials 
and a long schooling of himself, to fix his mind 
steadily on them. No one (I repeat) begins with 
being attentive. Novelty in prayers is the cause 
of persons being attentive in the outset, and 


novelty is out of the question in the Church 
prayers, for we have heard them from childhood, 
and knew them by heart long before we could 
understand them. No one, then, when he first 
turns his thoughts to religion, finds it easy to 
pray ; he is irregular in his religious feelings ; he 
prays more earnestly at some times than at others ; 
his devotional seasons come by fits and starts; 
he cannot account for his state of mind, or reckon 
upon himself; he frequently finds that he is more 
disposed for prayer at any time and place than 
those set apart for the purpose. All this is to be 
expected ; for no habit is formed at once ; and 
before the flame of religion ^u the heart is purified 
and strengthened by long practice and experience, 
of course it will be capricious in its motions, it will 
flare about (so to say) and flicker, and at times 
seem almost to go out. 

However, impatient men do not well consider 
this ; they overlook or are offended at the necessity 
of humble, tedious practice to enable them to 
pray attentively, and they account for their cold- 
ness and wanderings of thought in any way but 
the true one. Sometimes they attribute this in- 
equality in their religious feelings to the arbitrary 
coming and going of God's Holy Spirit; a most 
irreverent and presumptuous judgment, which I 
should not mention, except that men do form it, 
and therefore it is necessary to state in order to 
condemn it. Again, sometimes they think that 


they shall make themselves attentive all at once 
by bringing before their minds the more sacred 
doctrines of the Gospel, and thus rousing and con- 
straining their souls. This does for a time; but 
when the novelty is over, they find themselves 
relapsing into their former inattention, vrithout 
apparently having made any advance. And others, 
again, when discontented with their wanderings 
during prayer, lay the fault on the prayers them- 
selves as being too long. This is a common ex- 
cuse, and I wish to call your attention to it. 

If any one alleges the length of the Church 
prayers as a reason for his not keeping his mind 
fixed upon them, I wopld beg him to ask his con- 
science whether he sincerely believes this to be at 
bottom the real cause of his inattention ? Does he 
think he should attend better if the prayers were 
shorter? This is the question he has to consider. 
If he answers that he believes he should attend 
more closely in that case, then I go on to ask, 
whether he attends more closely (as it is^ to the 
first part of the service than to the last ; whether 
his mind is his own, regularly fixed on what he is 
engaged in, for any time in any part of the ser- 
vice ? Now, if he is obliged to own that this is 
not the case, that his thoughts are wandering in 
all parts of the service, and that even during the 
Confession, or the Lord's Prayer, which come first, 
they are not his own, it is quite clear that it is not 
the length of the service which is the real cause 


of his inattention, but his being deficient in the 
habit of being attentive. If, on the other hand, 
he answers that he can fix his thoughts for a 
time, and during the early part of the service, 
I would have him reflect that even this degree 
of attention was not always his own, that it has 
been the work of time and practice ; and, if by 
trying he has got so far, by trying he may go on, 
and learn to attend for a still longer time, till 
at length he is able to keep up his attention 
throuorh the whole service. 


However, I wish chiefly to speak to such as are 
dissatisfied with themselves, and despair of at- 
tending properly. Let a man once set his heart 
upon learning to pray, and strive to learn, and no 
failures he may continue to make in his manner 
of praying are sufficient to cast him from God's 
favour. Let him but persevere, not discouraged 
at his wanderings, not frightened into a notion he 
is a hypocrite, not shrinking from the honourable 
titles which God puts on him. Doubtless he 
should be humbled at his own weakness, indo- 
lence, and carelessness ; and he should feel (he 
cannot feel too much) the guilt, alas ! which he is 
ever contracting in his prayers by the irreverence 
of his inattention. Still he must not leave off his 
prayers, but go on looking towards Christ his 
Saviour. Let him but be in earnest, striving to 
master his thoughts, and to be serious, and all 
the guilt of his incidental failings will be washed 


away in his Lord's blood. Only let him not be 
contented with himself; only let him not neglect 
to attempt to obey. What a simple rule it is, to 
try to be attentive in order to be so ! and yet it 
is continually overlooked; that is, we do not 
systematically try, we do not make a point of 
attempting and attempting over and over again 
in spite of bad success ; we attempt only now and 
then, and our best devotion is merely when our 
hearts are excited by some accident which may 
or may not happen again. 

So much on inattention to our prayers, which, 
I say, should not surprise or frighten us, which 
does not prove us to be hypocrites unless we 
acquiesce in it; or oblige us to leave them off, 
but rather to learn to attend to them. 

2. I proceed, secondly, to remark on the diffi- 
culty of entering into the meaning of them, when 
we do attend to them. 

Here a tender conscience will ask, " How is it 
possible I can rightly use the solemn words which 
occur in the prayers ?" A tender conscience alone 
speaks thus. Those confident objectors whom I 
spoke of just now, who maintain that set prayer 
is necessarily a mere formal service in the gene- 
rality of instances, a service in which the heart 
has no part, they are silent here. They do not 
feel this difficulty, which is the real one ; they 
use the most serious and awful words lightly and 
without remorse, as if they really entered into the 


meaning of what is, in truth, beyond the intelli- 
ijence of Angels. But the humble and contrite 
believer, coming to Christ for pardon and help, 
perceives the great strait he is in, in having to 
address the God of heaven. This perplexity of 
mind it was which led convinced sinners in former 
times to seek refuge in beings short of God ; not 
as denying God's supremacy, or shunning Him, 
but discerning the vast distance between them- 
selves and Him, and seeking some resting places 
by the way, some Zoar, some little city near to flee 
unto^ because of the height of God's mountain, 
up which the way of escape lay. And then 
gradually becoming devoted to those whom they 
trusted, Saints, Angels, or good men living, and 
copying them, their faith had a fall, and their 
virtue trailed upon the ground, for want of props to 
rear it heavenward. We Christians, sinners though 
we be like other men, are not allowed thus to 
debase our nature, or to defraud ourselves of 
God's mercy ; and though it be very terrible to 
speak to the living God, yet speak w^e must, or 
die; tell our sorrows we must, or there is no 
hope; for created mediators and patrons are for- 
bidden us, and to trust in an arm of flesh is made 
a sin. 

Therefore let a man reflect, whoever from ten- 
derness of conscience shuns the Church as above 

' Gen. xix. 20. 


him, (whether he shuns her services, or her sacra- 
ments,) that, awful as it is to approach Christ, to 
speak to Him, to "eat His flesh and drink His 
blood," and to live in Him, to whom shall he go ? 
See what it comes to. Christ is the only way of 
salvation open to sinners. Truly we are children, 
and cannot suitably feel the words which the 
Church teaches us, though we say them after her, 
nor feel duly reverent at God's presence ! Yet 
let us but know our own ignorance and weakness, 
and we are safe. God accepts those who thus 
come in faith, bringing nothing as their offering, 
but a confession of sin. And this is the highest 
excellence to which we ordinarily attain ; to under- 
stand our own hypocrisy, insincerity, and shallow- 
ness of mind, — to own, while we pray, that we 
cannot pray aright, — to repent of our repentings, — 
and to submit ourselves wholly to His judgment, 
who could indeed be extreme with us, but has 
already shown His loving-kindness in bidding us to 
pray. And, while we thus conduct ourselves, we 
must learn to feel that God knows all this before 
we say it, and far better than we do. He does not 
need to be informed of our extreme worthlessness. 
We must pray in the spirit and the temper of the 
extremest abasement, but we need not search for 
adequate words to express this, for in truth no 
words are bad enough for our case. Some men 
are dissatisfied with the confessions of sin we 
make in Church, as not being strong enough ; 


but none can be strong enough ; let us be satisfied 
with sober words, which have been ever in use ; it 
will be a great thing if we enter into them. No 
need of searching for impassioned words to express 
our repentance, when we do not rightly enter even 
into the most ordinary expressions. 

Therefore, when we pray let us not be as the 
hypocrites, making a show ; nor use vain repeti- 
tions with the heathen ; let us compose ourselves, 
and kneel down quietly as to a work far above us, 
preparing our minds for our own imperfection in 
prayer, meekly repeating the wonderful words of 
the Church our Teacher, and desiring with the 
Angels to look into them. When we call God 
our Father Almighty, or own ourselves miserable 
offenders, and beg Him to spare us, let us recol- 
lect that, though we are using a strange language, 
yet Christ is pleading for us in the same words 
with full understanding of them, and availing 
power; and that, though we know not what we 
should pray for as we ought, yet the Spirit itself 
maketh intercession for us with plaints unutterable. 
Thus feeling God to be around us and in us, and 
therefore keeping ourselves still and collected, we 
shall serve Him acceptably, with reverence and 
godly fear; and we shall take back with us to 
our common employments the assurance that He 
is still gracious to us, in spite of our sins, not 
willing we should perish, desirous of our perfec- 
tion, and ready to form us day by day after the 


fashion of that divine image which in baptism was 
outwardly stamped upon us. 

I have spoken only of our prayers, and but 
referred to our general profession of Christianity. 
It is plain, however, what has been said about 
praying, may be applied to all we do and say as 
Christians. It is true that we profess to be saints, 
to be guided by the highest principles, and to be 
ruled by the Spirit of God. We have long ago 
promised to believe and obey. It is also true 
that we cannot do these things aright; nay, even 
with God's help, (such is our sinful weakness,) still 
we fall short of our duty. Nevertheless we must 
not cease to profess. We must not put off from 
us the wedding garment which Christ gave us in 
baptism. We may still rejoice in Him without 
being hypocrites, that is, if we labour day by day 
to make that wedding garment our own ; to fix it 
on us and so incorporate it with ourselves, that 
death, which strips us of all things, may be unable 
to tear it from us, though as yet it be in great 
measure but an outward garb, covering our own 

I conclude by reminding you, how great God's 
mercy is in allowing us to clothe ourselves in the 
glory of Christ from the first, even before we are 
worthy' of it. I suppose there is nothing so dis- 
tressing to a true Christian as to have to prove 

' Matt. xxii. 8. Col. i. 10. 


himself such to others ; both as being conscious 
of his own numberless failings, and from his dis- 
like of display. Now Christ has anticipated the 
difficulties of his modesty. He does not allow 
such an one to speak for himself; He speaks for 
him. He introduces each of us to his brethren, 
not as we are in ourselves, fit to be despised and 
rejected on account of " the temptations which 
are in our flesh," but " as messengers of God, even 
as Christ Jesus." It is our happiness that we need 
bring nothing in proof of our fellowship with Chris- 
tians, besides our baptism. This is what a great 
many persons do not understand ; they think that 
none are to be accounted fellow-Christians but 
those who evidence themselves to be such to their 
fallible understandings ; and hence they encourage 
others, who wish for their praise, to practise all 
kinds of display, as a seal of their regeneration. 
Who can tell the harm this does to the true 
modesty of the Christian spirit ? Instead of using 
the words of the Church, and speaking to God, 
men are led to use their own words, and make 
man their judge and justifier^ They think it 
necessary to tell out their secret feelings, and to 
enlarge on what God has done to their own 
souls in particular. And thus making themselves 
really answerable for all the words they use, which 
are altogether their own, they do in this case be- 

' 1 Cor. iv. 3—5. 


come hypocrites ; they do say more than they can 
in reality feel. Of course a religious man will na- 
turally, and unawares, out of the very fulness of 
his heart, show his deep feeling and his conscien- 
tiousness to his near friends; but when to do so 
is made a matter of necessity, an object to be aimed 
at, and is an intentional act, then it is that hypo- 
crisy must, more or less, sully our faith. "As 
many of you as have been baptized into Christ, 
have put on Christ;" this is the Apostle's de- 
cision. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there 
is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor 
female ; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." The 
Church follows this rule, and bidding us keep quiet, 
speaks for us ; robes us from head to foot in the 
garments of righteousness, and exhorts us to live 
henceforth to God. But the disputer of this world 
reverses this procedure; he strips off all our pri- 
vileges, bids us renounce our dependance on the 
Mother of saints, tells us we must each be a Church 
to himself, and must show himself to the world 
to be by himself and in himself the elect of God, 
in order to prove his right to the privileges of a 

Far be it from us thus to fight against God's 
gracious purposes to man, and to make the weak 
brother perish, for whom Christ died ' ! Let us 
acknowledge all to be Christians, who have not 

* 1 Cor. viii. 11. 


by open word or deed renounced their fellowship 
with us, and let us try to lead them on into all 
truth. And for ourselves, let us endeavour to enter 
more and more fully into the meaning of our own 
prayers and professions; let us humble ourselves 
for the very little we do, and the poor advance we 
make ; let us avoid unnecessary display of religion ; 
let us do our duty in that state of life to which 
God has called us. Thus proceeding, we shall, 
through God's grace, form within us the glorious 
mind of Christ. Whether rich or poor, learned or 
unlearned, walking by this rule, we shall become, at 
length, true saints, sons of God. We shall be 
upright and perfect, lights in the world, the image 
of Him who died that we might be conformed to 
His likeness. 



Matthew v. 14. 

" Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill 
cannot be hid." 

Our Saviour gives us a command, in this passage 
of His Sermon on the Mount, to manifest our 
religious profession before all men. " Ye are the 
light of the world," He says to His disciples ; " A 
city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither 
do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, 
but on a candlestick ; and it giveth light unto all 
that are in the house. Let your light so shine 
before men, that they may see your good works, 
and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Yet 
presently He says, " When thou doest alms . . . 
when thou prayest . . . when ye fast . . . appear 
not unto men . . . but unto thy Father which is 
in secret'." How ar^ these commands to be re- 

' Matt. vi. 2—18. 


conciled ? how are we at once to profess ourselves 
Christians, and yet hide our Christian words, deeds, 
and self-denials? 

I will now attempt to answer this question ; 
that is, to explain how we may be witnesses to 
the world for God, and yet without pretension or 
affectation, or rude and indecent ostentation. 

1. Now, first, much might be said on that 
mode of witnessing Christ which consists in con- 
forming to His Church. He who simply did what 
the Church bids him do, (if he did no more,) 
would witness a good confession to the world, and 
one which cannot be hid ; and at the same time, 
with very little, if any, personal display. He 
does only what he is told to do ; he takes no 
responsibility on himself. The Apostles and Mar- 
tyrs who founded the Church, the Saints in all 
ages who have adorned it, the Heads of it now 
alive, all these take from him the weight of his 
profession, and bear the blame (so to call it) of 
seeming ostentatious. I do not say, that irreli- 
gious men will not call such an one boastful, or 
austere, or a hypocrite; that is not the question. 
The question is, whether in God's judgment he 
deserves the censure; whether he is not as Christ 
would have him, really and truly (whatever the 
world may say) joining humility to a bold out- 
ward profession ; whether he is not, in thus acting, 
preaching Christ without hurting his own pure- 
ness, gentleness, and modesty of character. If 

VOL. I. N 


indeed a man stands forth on his own ground, 
declaring himself as an individual a witness for 
Christ, then indeed he is grieving and disturbing 
the calm spirit given us by God. But God's 
merciful providence has saved us this temptation, 
and forbidden us to admit it. He bids us unite 
together in one, and to shelter our personal pro- 
fession under the authority of the general body. 
Thus, vrhile we show ourselves as lights to the 
world far more effectively than if we glimmered 
separately in the lone wilderness without com- 
munication, at the same time we do so with far 
greater secrecy and humility. Therefore it is, 
that the Church does so many things for us, 
appoints Fasts and Feasts, times of public prayer, 
the order of the sacraments, the services of devo- 
tion at marriages and deaths, and all accom- 
panied by a fixed form of sound words ; in order 
(I say) to remove from us individually the burden 
of a high profession, of implying great things of 
ourselves by inventing for ourselves solemn prayers 
and praises, — a task far above the generality of 
Christians, to say the least, a task which humble 
men will shrink from, lest they prove hypocrites, 
and which will hurt those who do undertake it, by 
making them rude-spirited and profane. I am 
desirous of speaking on this subject as a matter 
of practice ; for I am sure, that if we wish really 
and in fact to spread the knowledge of the Truth, 
we shall do so far more powerfully as weU as 


purely, by keeping together, than by witnessing 
one by one. Men are to be seen adopting all kinds 
of strange ways of giving glory (as they think) to 
God. If they would but follow the Church ; come 
together in prayer on Sundays and Saints' days, 
nay, every day; honour the rubric by keeping to 
it obediently, and conforming their families to the 
spirit of the Prayer-book, I say, that on the whole 
they would practically do vastly more good than 
by trying new religious plans, founding new reli- 
gious societies, or striking out new religious views. 
I put out of account the greater blessing they 
might expect to find in the way of duty, which is 
the first consideration. 

2. One way of professing without display has 
been mentioned; — obeying the Church. Now in 
the next place, consider how great a profession, 
and yet a profession how unconscious and modest, 
arises from the mere ordinary manner in which 
any strict Christian lives. Let this thought be a 
satisfaction to uneasy minds which fear lest they 
are not confessing Christ, yet dread to display. 
Your life displays Christ without your intending 
it. You cannot help it. Your words and deeds 
will show on the long run (as it is said), where 
your treasure is, and your heart. Out of the 
abundance of your heart your mouth speaketh 
words "seasoned with salt." We sometimes find 
men who aim at doing their duty in the common 
course of life, surprised to hear that they are 

N 2 


ridiculed, and called hard names by careless or 
worldly persons. This is as it should be ; it is as 
it should be, that they are surprised at it. If a 
private Christian sets out with expecting to make 
a disturbance in the world, the fear is, lest he be 
not so humble-minded as he should be. But 
those who go on quietly in the way of obedience, 
and yet are detected by the keen eye of the jealous, 
self-condemning, yet proud world, and who, on 
discovering their situation, first shrink from it and 
are distrest, then look to see if they have done 
aught wrongly, and after all are sorry for it, and 
but slowly and very timidly (if at all) learn to 
rejoice in it, these are Christ's flock. These are 
they who follow Him who was meek and lowly 
of heart, His elect, in whom He sees His own 
imagfe reflected. Consider how such men show 
forth their light in a wicked world, yet uncon- 
sciously. Moses came down from the mount, and 
"wist not that the skin of his face shone" as 
one who had held intercourse with God. But 
"when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw 
Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone ; and 
they were afraid to come nigh him^" Who can 
estimate the power of our separate words spoken 
in season ! How many of them are recollected 
and cherished by this person or that which we 
have forgotten, and bear fruit ! How do our good 

' Exod. xxxiv. 29, 30. 


deeds excite others to rivalry in a good cause, as 
the Angels perceive though we do not ! How are 
men thinking of us we never heard of, or saw but 
once, and in far countries unknown ! Let us for 
a moment view this pleasing side of our doings, as 
well as the sad prospect of our evil communications. 
Doubtless, our prayers and alms are rising as a 
sweet sacrifice, pleasing to God ^ ; and pleasing to 
Him, not only as an oflSce of devotion, but of 
charity towards all men. Our businesses and our 
amusements, our joys and our sorrows, our opinions, 
tastes, studies, views, and principles, are drawn 
one way, heavenward. Be we high or low, in 
our place we can serve, and in consequence glorify 
Him who died for us. " A little maid," who was 
"brought away captive out of the land of Israel, 
and waited on Naaman's wife ^," pointed out to the 
great captain of the host of the king of Syria 
the means of recovery from his leprosy, and "his 
servants " spoke good words to him afterwards, and 
brought him back to his reason when he would 
have rejected the mode of cure which the prophet 
prescribed. This may quiet impatient minds, and 
console the over-scrupulous conscience. " Wait on 
God and be doing good," and you must, you cannot 
but be showing your light before men as a city on 
a hill. 

3. Still it is quite true that there are circum- 

'Acts X. 4. * 2 Kings V. 2. 


stances under which a Christian is bound openly 
to express his opinion on religious subjects and 
matters ; and this is the real difficulty ; viz. how to 
do so without display. As a man's place in society 
is here or there, so is it more or less his duty to 
speak his mind freely. We must never coun- 
tenance sin and error. Now the more obvious 
and modest way of discountenancing evil is by 
silence, and by separating from it; for example, 
we are bound to keep aloof from deliberate and 
open sinners. St. Paul expressly tells us, " nor 
to keep company, if any man that is called a 
brother (i. e. a' Christian) be a fornicator, or covet- 
ous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, 
or an extortioner ; with such an one no not to 
eat^" And St. John gives us the like advice with 
respect to heretics. "If there come any unto 
you, and bring not this doctrine, (i. e. the true 
doctrine of Christ,) receive him not into your 
house, neither bid him God speed ; for he that 
biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil 
deeds ^" It is plain that such conduct on our part 
requires no great display, for it is but conforming 
to the rules of the Church ; though it is often diffi- 
cult to know on what occasions we ought to adopt 
it, which is another question. 

A more difficult duty is that of passing judg- 
ment (as a Christian is often bound to do,) on 

' 1 Cor. V. 11. '2 John 10, 11. 


events of the day and public men. It becomes 
his duty, in proportion as he has station and 
influence in the community, in order that he may 
persuade others to think as he does. Above all, 
clergymen are bound to form and pronounce an 
opinion. It is sometimes said in familiar lan- 
guage, that a clergyman should have nothing to 
do with politics. This is true, if it be meant that 
he should not aim at secular objects, should not 
side with a political party as such, should not be 
ambitious of popular applause, or the favour of 
great men, should not take pleasure and lose time 
in business of this world, should not be covet- 
ous. But if it means that he should not express 
an opinion and exert an influence one way rather 
than another, it is plainly unscriptural. Did not 
the Apostles, with all their reverence for the tem- 
poral power, whether Jewish or Roman, and all 
their separation from worldly ambition, did they 
not still denounce their rulers as wicked men, who 
had crucified and slain the Lord's Christ ^ ? and 
would they have been as a city on a hill if they 
had not done so ? If, indeed, this world's con- 
cerns could be altogether disjoined from those 
of Christ's kingdom, then indeed all Christians 
(laymen as well as clergy,) should abstain from 
the thought of temporal affairs, and let the 
worthless world pass down the stream of events 

• Actsii. 23. iii. 13—17. iv. 27. xiii. 27. 


till it perishes ; but if (as is the case,) what hap- 
pens in nations must affect the cause of religion 
in those nations, since the Church may be seduced 
and corrupted by the world, and in the world 
there are myriads of souls to be converted and 
saved, and since a Christian nation is bound to 
become part of the Church, therefore it is our 
duty to stand as a beacon on a hill, to cry aloud 
and spare not, to lift up our voice like a trumpet, 
and show the people their transgression, and the 
house of Jacob their sins \ And all this may be 
done without injury to our Christian gentleness 
and humbleness, though it is difficult to do it. We 
need not be angry nor use contentious words, and 
yet may firmly give our opinion, in proportion as 
we have the means of forming one, and be zealous 
towards God in all active good service, and scru- 
pulously and pointedly keep aloof from the bad 
men whose evil arts we fear. 

Another and still more difficult duty is that of 
personally rebuking those we meet with in the 
intercourse of life who sin in word or deed, and 
testifying before them in Christ's name; that is, 
it is difficult at once to be unassuming and zeal- 
ous in such cases. We know it is a plain and re- 
peated precept of Christ to tell others of their 
faults for charity's sake; but how is this to be 
done without seeming, nay, without being arro- 

' Isa. Iviii. 1. 



gant and severe? There are persons who are 
anxious to do their duty to the full, who fear that 
they are deficient in this particular branch of it, 
and deficient from a blameable backwardness, and 
the dread of giving offence ; yet, on the other 
hand, they feel the painfulness of rebuking an- 
other, and (to use a common word,) the awkward- 
ness of it. Such persons must consider that, 
though to rebuke is a duty, it is not a duty be- 
longing at once to all men; and the perplexity 
which is felt about it often arises from the very 
impropriety of attempting it in the particular 
case. It is improper, as a general rule, in the 
young to witness before the old, otherwise than 
by their silence. Still more improper is it in 
inferiors to rebuke their superiors ; for instance, 
a child his parent, of course; or a private per- 
son his natural and divinely appointed governor. 
When we assume a character not suited to us, 
of course we feel awkward ; and althoush we 
may have done so in honesty and zeal (however 
ill-tutored), and so God may in mercy accept our 
service, still He, at the same time, rebukes us by 
our very feeling of perplexity and shame. — As for 
such as rudely blame another, and that a supe- 
rior, and feel no pain at doing so, I have nothing 
to say to such men, except to express my earnest 
desire that they may be led into a more Christian 
frame of mind. They do not even feel the diffi- 
culty of witnessing for God without display. 


It is to be considered, too, that to do the part 
of a witness for the truth, to warn and rebuke, is 
not an elementary duty of a Christian. I mean, 
that our duties come in a certain order, some 
before others, and that this is not one of the first 
of them. Our first duties are to repent and be- 
lieve. It would be strange, indeed, for a man, 
who had just begun to think of religion, to set up 
for " some great one," to assume he was a saint 
and a witness, and to exhort others to turn to 
God. This is evident. But as time goes on, 
and his religious character becomes formed, then, 
while he goes on to perfection in all his duties, 
he takes upon himself, in the number of these, 
to witness for God by word of mouth. It is difl&- 
cult to say, when a man has leave openly to rebuke 
others ; certainly not before he has considerable 
humility ; the test of which may be the absence 
of a feeling of triumph in doing it, a consciousness 
that he is no better by nature than the person he 
witnesses before, and that his actual sins are such 
as to deserve a severe rebuke were they known 
to the world ; a love towards the person reproved, 
and a willingness to submit to deserved censure 
in his turn. In all this I am speaking of laymen. 
It is a clergyman's duty to rebuke by virtue of 
his oflfice. And then, after all, supposing it be 
clearly our duty to manifest our religious profes- 
sion in this pointed way before another, in order 
to do so modestly we must do so kindly and 


cheerfully, as gently as we can ; doing it as little 
as we can help; not making matters worse than 
they are, or showing our whole Christian stature 
(or what we think to be such), when we need but 
put out a hand (so to say) or give a glance. And 
above all, (as I have already said,) acting as if we 
thought, nay really thinking, that it may be the 
offender's turn some day to rebuke us ; not putting 
ourselves above him, feeling our great imperfec- 
tions, and desirous he should rebuke us, should 
occasion require it, and in prospect thanking him ; 
acting, that is, in the spirit in which you warn a 
man in walking against rugged ground, which may 
cause him a fall, thinking him bound by your 
friendly conduct, to do the like favour to you. As 
to grave occasions of witnessing Christ, they will 
seldom occur, except a man thrust himself into 
society where he never ought to have been, by 
neglecting the rule, " come ye out, and be sepa- 
rate;" and then he has scarcely the right to re- 
buke, having committed the first fault himself. 
This is another cause of our perplexity in witness- 
ing Christ before the world. We make friends of 
the sinful, and then they have the advantage over 

To conclude. — The question is often raised, 
whether a man can do his duty simply and quietly, 
without being thought ostentatious by the world. 
It is no great matter to himself whether he is 
thought so or not, if he has not provoked the 


opinion. As a general rule, I would say the Church 
itself is always hated and calumniated by the world, 
as being in duty bound to make a bold profession. 
But whether individual members of the Church are 
so treated, depends on various circumstances in the 
case of each. There are persons, who, though very 
strict and conscientious Christians, are yet praised 
by the world. These are such, as having great 
meekness and humility, are not so prominent in 
station or so practically connected with the world 
as to offend it. Men admire religion, while they 
can gaze on it as a picture. They think it lovely 
in books; and as long as they can look upon 
Christians at a distance, they speak well of them. 
The Jews in Christ's time built the sepulchres of 
the prophets whom their fathers killed ; then they 
themselves killed the Just One. They " reverenced" 
the Son of God before He came, but when their 
passions and interests were stirred by His coming, 
then they said, " This is the Heir ; come, let us kill 
Him, and the inheritance shall be ours'." Thus 
Christians in active life thwarting (as they do) the 
pride and selfishness of the world, are disliked by 
the world, and have " all manner of evil said against 
them falsely for Christ's sake^" Still, even under 
these circumstances, though they must not shrink 
from the attack on a personal account, it is still 
their duty to shelter themselves, as far as they can, 

1 Markxii. 7. ' Matt. v. 11. 


under the name and authority of the Holy Church ; 
to keep to its ordinances and rules ; and, if they are 
called to suffer for the Church, rather to be drawn 
forward to the suffering in the common course of 
duty, than boldly to take upon them the task of 
defending it. There is no cowardice in this. Some 
men are placed in posts of danger, and to these 
danger comes in the way of duty ; but others must 
not intrude into their honourable office. Thus in 
the first age of the Gospel, our Lord told His 
followers to fly from city to city, when persecuted ; 
and even the heads of the Church, in the early 
persecutions, instead of exposing themselves to the 
fury of the heathen, did their utmost to avoid it. 
We are a suffering people from the first; but 
while, on the one hand, we do not defend ourselves 
illegally, we do not court suffering on the other. 
We must witness and glorify God, as lights on a 
hill, through evil report and good report ; but the 
evil and the good report is not so much of our own 
making as the natural consequence of our Christian 

Who can tell God's will concerning this tumul- 
tuous world, or how He will dispose of it ? He is 
tossing it hither and thither in His fury, and in its 
agitation He troubles His own people also. Only, 
this we know for our comfort. Our light shall 
never go down ; Christ set it upon a hill, and hell 
shall not prevail against it. The Church will wit- 
ness on to the last for the Truth, chained indeed to 


this world, its evil partner, but ever foretelling its 
ruin, though not believed, and in the end promised 
a far different recompense. For in the end the 
Lord Omnipotent shall reign, when the marriage of 
the Lamb shall come at length, and His wife shall 
make herself ready ; and to her shall be granted 
" fine linen, clean and white ; for the fine linen is 
the righteousness of saints'." True and righteous 
are His judgments ; He shall cast death and hell 
into the lake of fire, and avenge His own elect 
which cry day and night unto Him ! 

"Blessed are they which are called unto the 
marriage supper of the Lamb." May all we be 
in the number, confessing Christ in this world, 
that He may confess us before His Father in the 
last day ! 

' Rev. xix. 6—8. 



Matthew xxi. 28 — 30. 

" A certain man had two sons ; and he came to the first, and 
said, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard. He answered 
and said, I will not ; but afterward he repented, and went. 
And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he 
answered and said, I go. Sir; and went not." 

Our religious professions are at a far greater 
distance from our acting upon them, than we our- 
selves are aware. We know generally that it is 
our duty to serve God, and we resolve we will do 
so faithfully. We are sincere in thus generally 
desiring and purposing to be obedient, and we 
think we are in earnest ; yet we go away, and pre- 
sently, without any struggle of mind or apparent 
change of purpose, almost without knowing our- 
selves what we do, — we go away and do the very 
contrary to the resolution we have expressed. 
This inconsistency is exposed by our Blessed 
Lord in the second part of the parable which I 


have taken for my text. You will observe, that 
in the case of the first son, who said he would not 
go work, and yet did go, it is said, " afterward he 
repented;" he underwent a positive change of 
purpose. But in the case of the second, it is 
merely said, " he answered, I go, Sir ; and went 
not ; " — for here there was no revolution of senti- 
ment, nothing deliberate ; he merely acted accord- 
ing to his habitual frame of mind ; he did not go 
work, because it was contrary to his general cha- 
racter to work ; only he did not know this. He 
said, " I go. Sir," sincerely, from the feeling of 
the moment ; but when the words were out of his 
mouth, then they were forgotten. It was like the 
wind blowing against a stream, which seems for a 
moment to change its course in consequence, but 
in fact flows down as before. 

To this subject I shall now call your attention, 
as drawn from the latter part of this parable, 
passing over the case of the repentant son, which 
would form a distinct subject in itself. " He an- 
swered and said, I go. Sir ; and went not." We 
promise to serve God, we do not perform ; and 
that, not from deliberate faithlessness in the par- 
ticular case, but because it is our nature, our way 
not to obey, and we do not know this ; we do not 
know ourselves, or what we are promising. — I 
will give several instances of this kind of weak- 

1. For instance; that of mistaking good feelings 


for real religious principle. Consider how often 
this takes place. It is the case with the young 
necessarily, who have not been exposed to tempt- 
ation. They have (we will say) been brought up 
religiously, they wish to be religious, and so are 
objects of our love and interest; but they think 
themselves far more religious than they really are. 
They suppose they hate sin, and understand the 
Truth, and can resist the world, when they hardly 
know the meaning of the words they use. Again, 
how often is a man incited by circumstances to 
utter a virtuous wish, or propose a generous or 
valiant deed, and perhaps applauds himself for his 
own good feeling, and has no suspicion that he is 
not able to act upon it ! In truth, he does not 
understand where the real difficulty of his duty 
lies. He thinks that the characteristic of a re- 
ligious man is his having correct notions. It 
escapes him that there is a great interval between 
feeling and acting. He takes it for granted he 
can do what he wishes. He knows he is a free 
agent, and can on the whole do what he will ; but 
he is not conscious of the load of corrupt nature 
and sinful habits which hang upon his will, and 
clog it in each particular exercise of it. He has 
borne these so long, that he is insensible to their 
existence. - He knows that in little things, where 
passion and inclination are excluded, he can per- 
form as soon as he resolves. Should he meet in 
his walk two paths, to the right and left, he is 

VOL. I. O 


sure he can take which he will at once, without 
any difficulty; and he fancies that obedience to 
God is not much more difficult than to turn to 
the right instead of the left. 

2. One especial case of this self-deception is 
seen in delaying repentance. A man says to him- 
self, " Of course, if the worst comes to the worst, 
if illness comes, or at least old age, I can repent." 
I do not speak of the dreadful presumption of 
such a mode of quieting conscience, (though many 
persons really use it who do not speak the words 
out, or are aware that they act upon it,) but, 
merely, the ignorance it evidences concerning our 
moral condition, and our power of willing and 
doing. If men can repent, why do they not do 
so at once? they answer, that "they intend to 
do so hereafter;" i. e. they do not repent be- 
cause they can. Such is their argument ; where- 
as, the very fact that they do not now, should 
make them suspect that there is a greater differ- 
ence between intending and doing than they 
know of. 

So very difficult is obedience, so hardly won is 
every step in our Christian course, so sluggish 
and inert our corrupt nature, that I would have 
a man disbelieve he can do one jot or tittle 
beyond what he has already done ; refrain from 
borrowing aught on the hope of the future, how- 
ever good a security for it he seems to be able to 
show; and never take his good feelings and 


wishes in pledge for one single untried deed. 
Nothing but past acts are the vouchers for future. 
Past sacrifices, past labours, past victories over 
yourselves, — these, my brethren, are the tokens of 
the like in store ; and doubtless of greater in store, 
for the path of the just is as the shining, growing 
light '. But trust nothing short of these. " Deeds, 
not words and wishes," this must be the watch- 
word of your warfare and the ground of your as- 
surance. But if you have done nothing firm and 
manly hitherto, if you are as yet the coward 
slave of Satan, and the poor creature of your 
lusts and passions, never suppose you will one 
day rouse yourselves from your indolence. Alas ! 
there are men who walk the road to hell, always 
the while looking back at heaven, and trembling 
as they pace forward towards their place of doom. 
They hasten on as under a spell, shrinking from 
the consequences of their own deliberate doings. 
Such was Balaam. What would he have given 
if words and feelings might have passed for 
deeds! See how religious he was so far as pro- 
fession goes ! How did he revere God in speech ! 
How piously express a desire to die the death of 
the righteous ! Yet he died in battle among God's 
enemies; not suddenly overcome by temptation, 
only on the other hand, not suddenly turned to 
God by his good thoughts and fair purposes. But 

' Prov. iv. 18. 



in this respect the power of sin differs from any 
literal spell or fascination, that we are, after all, 
willing slaves of it, and shall answer for following it. 
If " our iniquities, like the wind, take us away V' 
yet we can help this. 

Nor is it only among beginners in religious 
obedience that there is this great interval between 
promising and performing. We can never answer 
how we shall act under new circumstances. A 
very little knowledge of life and of our own hearts 
will teach us this. Men whom we meet in the 
world turn out, in the course of their trial, so 
differently from what their former conduct pro- 
mised, they view things so differently before they 
were tempted and ajler, that we, who see and won- 
der at it, have abundant cause to look to ourselves, 
not to be " high-minded " but to " fear." Even 
the most matured saints, those who imbibed in 
largest measure the power and fulness of Christ's 
Spirit, and worked righteousness most diligently 
in their day, could they have been thoroughly 
scanned even by man, would (I am persuaded) 
have exhibited inconsistencies such as to surprise 
and shock their most ardent disciples. After all, 
one good deed is scarcely the pledge of another, 
though I just now said it was. The best men 
are uncertain ; they are great, and they are little 
again ; they stand firm, and then fall. Such is 

' Isaiah Ixiv. 6. 


human virtue ; — reminding us to call no one 
Master on earth, but to look up to our sinless and 
perfect Lord; reminding us to humble ourselves 
each within himself, and to reflect what we must 
appear to God, if even to ourselves and each other 
we seem so base and worthless ; and showing 
clearly that all who are saved, even the least in- 
consistent of us, can be saved only by faith, not 
by works. 

3. Here I am reminded of another plausible 
form of the same error. It is a mistake concern- 
ing what is meant by faith. We know Scripture 
tells us that God accepts those who have faith in 
Him. Now the question is. What is faith, and 
how can a man tell that he has faith ? Some 
persons answer at once and without hesitation, 
that " to have faith, is to feel oneself to be 
nothing, and God every thing ; it is to be con- 
vinced of sin, to be conscious one cannot save 
oneself, and to wish to be saved by Christ our 
Lord ; and that it is moreover to have the love 
of Him warm in one's heart, and to rejoice in 
Him, to desire His glory, and to resolve to live 
to Him and not to the world." But I will answer, 
with all due seriousness, as speaking on a serious 
subject, that this is not faith. Not that it is not 
necessary (it is very necessary) to be convinced, 
that we are laden with infirmity and sin, and 
without health in us, and to look for salvation 
solely to Christ's blessed sacrifice on the cross; 


and we may well be thankful if we are thus 
minded ; but that a man may feel all this that I 
have described, vividly, and still not yet possess 
one particle of true religious faith. Why? Be- 
cause there is an immeasurable distance between 
feeling right and doing right. A man may have 
all these good thoughts and emotions, yet (if he 
has not yet hazarded them to the experiment of 
practice,) he cannot promise himself that he has 
any sound and permanent principle at all. If he 
has not yet acted upon them, we have no voucher, 
barely on account of them to believe that they are 
any thing but words. Though a man spoke like 
an angel, I would not believe him, on the mere 
ground of his speaking. Nay, till he acts upon 
them, he has not even evidence to himself, that 
he has true living faith. Dead faith (as St. 
James says,) profits no man. Of course ; the 
Devils have it. What, on the other hand, is 
living faith ? Do fervent thoughts make faith 
living f St. James tells us otherwise. He tells 
us works, deeds of obedience, are the life of faith. 
" As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith 
without works is dead also '." So that those 
who think they really believe, because they have 
in word and thought surrendered themselves to 
God, are much too hasty in their judgment. 
They have done something, indeed, but not at all 
the "^ most difficult part of their duty, which is to 
' James ii. 26. 


surrender themselves to God in deed and act. 
They have as yet done nothing to show they will 
not, after saying " I go," the next moment " go 
not ;" nothing to show they will not act the part 
of the self-deceiving disciple, who said, "Though 
I die with Thee, I will not deny Thee ;" yet 
straightway went and denied Christ thrice. As 
far as we know any thing of the matter, justifying 
faith has no existence independent of its par- 
ticular definite acts. It may be described to be 
the temper under which men obey; the humble 
and earnest desire to please Christ which causes 
and attends on actual services. He who does 
one little deed of obedience, whether he denies 
himself some comfort to relieve the sick and 
needy, or curbs his temper, or forgives an enemy, 
or asks forgiveness for an offence committed by 
him, or resists the clamour or ridicule of the 
world, such an one (as far as we are given to 
judge) evinces more true faith than could be 
shown by the most fluent religious conversation, 
the most intimate knowledge of Scripture doc- 
trine, or the most remarkable agitation and change 
of religious sentiments. Yet how many are there 
who sit still with folded hands, dreaming, doing 
nothing at all, thinking they have done every 
thing, or need do nothing, when they merely 
have had these good thoughts^ which will save no 
one ! 


My object has been, as far as a few words can 
do it, to lead you to some true notion of the 
depths and deceitfulness of the heart, which we 
do not really know. It is easy to speak of human 
nature as corrupt in the general, to admit it in 
the general, and then get quit of the subject ; as 
if the doctrine being once admitted, there was 
nothing more to be done with it. But in truth 
we can have no real apprehension of the doctrine 
of our corruption, till we view the structure of 
our minds, part by part ; and dwell upon and 
draw out the signs of our weakness, inconsistency, 
and ungodliness, which are such as can arise from 
nothing but some strange original defect in our 
moral nature. 

1. Now it will be well if such self-examination 
as I have suggested leads us to the habit of con- 
stant dependence upon the Unseen God, in whom 
"we live and move and have our being." We 
are in the dark about ourselves. When we act, 
we are groping in the dark, and may meet with 
a fall any moment. Here and there, perhaps, 
we see a little ; — or, in our attempts to influence 
and move our minds, we are making experiments 
(as it were) with some delicate and dangerous 
instrument, which works, we do not know how, 
and may produce unexpected and disastrous effects. 
The management of our heart is quite above us. 
Under these circumstances it becomes our comfort 


to look up to God. "Thou, God, seest me!" 
Such was the consolation of the forlorn ^agar 
in the wilderness. He knoweth whereof we are 
made, and He alone can uphold us. He sees 
with most appalling distinctness all our sins, all 
the windings and recesses of evil within us ; yet 
it is our only comfort to know this, and to trust 
Him for help against ourselves. To those who 
have a right notion of their weakness, the thought 
of their Almighty Sanctifier and Guide is con- 
tinually present. They believe in the necessity 
of a spiritual influence to change and strengthen 
them, not as a mere abstract doctrine, but as a 
practical and most consolatory truth, daily to be 
fulfilled in their warfare with sin and Satan. 

2. And this conviction of our excessive weak- 
ness must further lead us to try ourselves con- 
tinually in little things, in order to prove our own 
earnestness ; ever to be suspicious of ourselves, 
and not only to refrain from promising much, 
but actually to put ourselves to the test to keep 
ourselves wakeful. A sober mind never enjoys 
God's blessings to the full ; it draws back and 
refuses a portion to show its command over itself. 
It denies itself in trivial circumstances, even if 
nothing is gained by denying, but an evidence of 
its own sincerity. It makes trial of its own pro- 
fessions ; and if it has been tempted to say any thing 
noble and great, or to blame another for sloth or 


cowardice, it takes itself at its word, and resolves 
to make some sacrifice (if possible) in little things, 
as a price for the indulgence of fine speaking, or 
as a penalty on its censoriousness. Much would 
be gained if we adopted this rule even in our 
professions of friendship and service one towards 
another ; and never said a thing which we were 
not willing to do. 

There is only one place where the Christian 
allows himself to profess openly, and that is in 
Church. Here, under the guidance of Apostles 
and Prophets, he says many things boldly, as 
speaking after them, and as before Him who 
searcheth the reins. There can be no harm in 
professing much directly to God, because, while 
we speak, we know He sees through our profes- 
sions, and takes them for what they really are, 
prayers. How much, for instance, do we profess 
when we say the Creed ! and in the Collects we 
put on the full character of a Christian, We 
desire and seek the best gifts, and declare our 
strong purpose to serve God with our whole hearts. 
By doing this, we remind ourselves of our duty; 
and withal, we humble ourselves by the taunt 
(so to call it) of putting upon our dwindled and 
unhealthy forms those ample and glorious gar- 
ments which befit the upright and full-grown 

Lastly, we see from the parable, what is the 


course and character of human obedience on the 
whole. There are two sides of it. I have taken 
the darker side ; the case of profession without 
practice, of saying " I go, Sir," and of not going. 
But what is the brighter side? Nothing better 
than to say, "I go not," and to repent and go. 
The more common condition of men is, not to 
know their inability to serve God, and readily to 
answer for themselves; and so they quietly pass 
through life, as if they had nothing to fear. Their 
best estate, what is it, but to rise more or less in 
rebellion against God, to resist His commandments 
and ordinances, and then poorly to make up for the 
mischief they have done, by repenting and obey- 
ing ? Alas ! to be alive as a Christian, is nothing 
better than to struggle against sin, to disobey and 
repent. There has been but One among the sons 
of men who has said and done consistently ; who 
said, " I come to do Thy will, O God," and without 
delay or hindrance did it. He came to show us 
what human nature might become, if carried on to 
its perfection. Thus He teaches us to think highly 
of our nature as viewed in Him ; not (as some do) 
to speak evil of our nature and exalt ourselves per- 
sonally, but while we acknowledge oz^r oz^?z distance 
from heaven, to view our nature as renewed in Him, 
as glorious and wonderful beyond our thoughts. 
Thus He teaches us to be hopeful ; and encourages 
us while conscience abases us. Angels seem little 
in honour and dignity, compared with that nature 



which the Eternal Word has purified by His own 
union with it. Henceforth, we dare aspire to enter 
into the heaven of heavens, and to live for ever in 
God's presence, because the first-fruits of our race 
is already there in the Person of His Only-begotten 



Mark xiv, 31. 

" But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with Thee, 
I will not deny Thee in any wise." 

It is not my intention to make St. Peter's fall the 
direct subject of our consideration to-day, though 
I have taken this text ; but to suggest to you an 
important truth, which that fall, together with 
other events at the same season, especially en- 
forces ; viz. that violent impulse is not the same as 
a firm determination, — that men may have their 
religious feelings roused, without being on that ac- 
count at all the more likely to obey God in practice, 
rather the less likely. This important truth is in 
various ways brought before our minds at the sea- 
son sacred to the memory of Christ's betrayal and 
death. The contrast displayed in the Gospels! 
between His behaviour on the one hand, as the 
time of His crucifixion drew near, and that both 
of His disciples and the Jewish populace on the 
other, is full of instruction, if we will receive it ; 



He steadily fixing His face to endure those suf- 
ferings which were the atonement for our sins, yet 
without aught of mental excitement or agitation ; 
His disciples and the Jewish multitude first pro- 
testing their devotion to Him in vehement lan- 
guage, then, the one deserting Him, the other 
even clamouring for His crucifixion. He entered 
Jerusalem in triumph ; the multitude cutting down 
branches of palm-trees, and strewing them in the 
way, as in honour of a king and conqueror'. 
He had lately raised Lazarus from the dead ; and 
so great a miracle had given Him great temporary 
favour with the populace. Multitudes flocked to 
Bethany to see Him and Lazarus • ; and when 
He set out for Jerusalem w^here He was to suffer, 
they, little thinking they would soon cry, " Cru- 
cify Him," went out to meet Him with the palm- 
branches, and hailing Him as their Messiah, led 
Him on into the holy city. Here was an instance 
of a popular excitement. The next instance of 
excited feeling is found in that melancholy self- 
confidence of St. Peter, contained in the text. 
When our Saviour foretold Peter's trial and fall, 
Peter at length " spake the more vehemently, If I 
should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any 
wise." Yet in a little while both the people and 
the Apostle abandoned their Messiah ; the ardour 
of their devotion had run its course. 

' Matt. xxi. 8. John xii. 13. " John xii. 1 — 18. 


Now it may, perhaps, appear as if the circum- 
stance I am pointing out, remarkable as it is, still 
is one on which it is of little use to dwell, when 
addressing a mixed congregation, on the ground 
that most men feel too little about religion. And 
it may be thence argued, that the aim of Christian 
teaching rather should be to rouse them from 
insensibilitj, than to warn them against excess of 
religious feeling. I answer, that to mistake mere 
transient emotion, or mere good thoughts, for 
obedience, is a far commoner deceit than at first 
sight appears. How many a man is there, who, 
when his conscience upbraids him for neglect of 
duty, comforts himself with the reflection that he 
has never treated the subject of religion with open 
scorn, — that he has from time to time had serious 
thoughts, — that on certain solemn occasions he 
has been affected and awed, — that he has at 
times been moved to earnest prayer to God, — that 
he has had accidentally some serious conversation 
with a friend ! This, I say, is a case of frequent 
occurrence among men called Christian. Again, 
there is a further reason for insisting upon this 
subject. No one (it is plain) can be religious 
without having his heart in his religion; his 
affections must be actively engaged in it ; and it 
is the aim of all Christian instruction to promote 
this. But if so, doubtless there is great danger 
lest a perverse use should be made of the affec- 
tions. In proportion as a religious duty is diffi- 


cult, SO is it open to abuse. For the very reason, 
then, that I desire to make you earnest in religion, 
must I also warn you against a counterfeit earn- 
estness, which often misleads men from the plain 
path of obedience, and which most men are apt 
to fall into just on their first awakening to a 
serious consideration of their duty. It is not 
[enough to bid you serve Christ in faith, fear, 
love, and gratitude ; care must be taken that it 
is the faith, fear, love, and gratitude of a sound 
mind . That vehement tumult of zeal which St. 
Peter felt before his trial failed him under it. 
The open-mouthed admiration of the populace at 
our Saviour's miracle was suddenly changed to 
blasphemy. This may happen now as then; 
and it often happens in a way distressing to the 
Christian teacher. He finds it is far easier to 
interest men in the subject of religion, (hard 
though this be,) than to rule the spirit which he 
has excited. His hearers, when their attention 
is gained, soon begin to think he does not go far 
enough; then they seek means which he will not 
supply, of encouraging and indulging their mere 
feelings to the neglect of humble practical efforts 
to serve God. After a time, like the multitude, 
they suddenly turn round to the world, abjuring 
Christ altogether, or denying Him with Peter, or 
gradually sinking into a mere form of obedience, 
, while they still think themselves true Christians, 
'and secure of the favour of Almighty God. 


For these reasons I think it is as important to 
warn men against impetuous feelings in religion, 
as to urge them to give their heart to it. 1 pro- 
ceed therefore to explain more fully what is the 
connexion between strong emotions and sound 
Christian principle, and how far they are consistent 
with it. 

Now that perfect state of mind at which we 
must aim, and which the Holy Spirit imparts, is 
a deliberate preference of God's service to every 
thing else, a determined resolution to give up all 
for Him ; and a love for Him, not tumultuous 
and passionate, but such a love as a child bears 
towards his parents, calm, full, reverent, contem- 
plative, obedient. Here, however, it may be ob- 
jected, that this is not always possible: that we 
cannot help feeling emotion at times ; that even 
to take the case of parents and children, a man is 
at certain times thrown out of that quiet affection 
which he bears towards his father and mother, 
and is agitated by various feelings ; again, that 
zeal, for instance, though a Christian virtue, is 
almost inseparable from ardour and passion. To 
this I reply, that I am not describing the state 
of mind to which any one of us has attained, 
when I say it is altogether calm and meditative, 
but that which is the perfect state, that which we 
should aim at. I know it is often impossible, 
for various reasons, to avoid being agitated and 
excited ; but the question before us is, whether 

VOL. I. P 


we should think much of violent emotion, whether 
we should encourage it. Doubtless it is no sin to 
feel at times passionately on the subject of religion ; 
it is natural in some men, and under certain cir- 
cumstances it is praiseworthy in others. But these 
are accidents. As a general rule, the more reli- 
gious men become, the calmer they become; and 
at all times the religious principle, viewed by itself, 
is calm, sober, and deliberate. 

Let us review some of the accidental circum- 
stances I speak of. 

1. The natural tempers of men vary very much. 
Some men have ardent imaginations and strong 
feelings ; and adopt, as a matter of course, a 
vehement mode of expressing themselves. No 
doubt it is impossible to make all men think 
and feel alike. Such men of course may possess 
deep-rooted principle. All I would maintain is, 
that their ardou r do es not of itself make their 
faith deeper and more genuine; that they must 
not think themselves better than others on account 
of it ; that they must beware of considering it a 
proof of their real earnestness, instead of narrowly 
searching into their conduct for the satisfactory 

fruits of faith. 

2. Next, there are, besides, particular occasions 
on which excited feeling is natural, and even 
commendable; but not for its own sake, but on 
account of the peculiar circumstances under which 
it occurs. For instance, it is natural for a man 


to feel especial remorse at his sins when he first 
begins to think of religion ; he ought to feel bitter 
sorrow and keen repentance. But all such emo- 
tion evidently is not the highest state of a Christ- 
ian's mind ; it is but the first stirring of grace in 
him. A sinner, indeed, can do no better ; but in 
proportion as he learns more of the power of true 
religion, such agitation will wear away. What' 
is this but saying, that change of mind is only the 
inchoate state of a Christian ? Who doubts that 
sinners are bound to repent and turn to God ? 
yet the Angels have no repentance ; and who 
denies their peacefulness of soul to be a higher 
excellence than ours ? The woman who had been 
a sinner, when she came behind our Lord wept 
much, and washed his feet with tears ^ It was 
well done in her ; she did what she could ; and 
was honoured with her Saviour's praise. Yet it 
is clear this was not a permanent state of mind. 
It was but the first step in religion, and would 
doubtless wear away. It was but the accident of 
a season. Had her faith no deeper root than this 
emotion, it would have soon come to an end, as 
Peter's zeal. 

In like manner, whenever we fall into sin, (and 
how often is this the case !) the truer our faith is, 
the more we shall for the time be distressed, per- 

* Luke vii. 38. 
p 2 


haps agitated. No doubt; yet it would be a 
strange procedure to make much of this disquie- 
tude. Though it is a bad sign if we do not feel it 
according to our mental temperament, yet if we do, 
what then ? It argues no high Christian excel- 
lence ; I repeat it, it is but the virtue of a very im- 
perfect state. Bad is the best offering we can 
offer to God after sinning. On the other hand, the 
more consistent our habitual obedience, the less we 
shall be subject to such feelings. 

3. And further, the accidents of life will occa- 
sionally agitate us : — affliction and pain ; bad news ; 
though here, too, the Psalmist describes the 
higher excellence of mind, viz. the calm con- 
fidence of the believer, who " will not be afraid of 
any evil tidings, y^' his heart standeth fast, and be- 
lieveth in the Lord\" Times of persecution will 
agitate the mind ; circumstances of especial interest 
in the fortunes of the Church will cause anxiety 
and fear. We see the influence of some of these 
causes in various parts of St. Paul's Epistles. 
Such emotion, however, is not the essence of true 
faith, though it accidentally accompanies it. In 
times of distress religious men will speak more 
j openly on the subject of religion, and lay bare their 
1 feelings; at other times they will conceal them. 
' They are neither better nor worse for so doing. 

' Psalm cxii. 7. 


Now all this may be illustrated from Scripture. 
We find the same prayers offered, and the same 
resolutions expressed by good men, sometimes in 
a calm way, sometimes with more ardour. How 
quietly and simply does Agur offer his prayer to 
God ! " Two things have I required of Thee ; 
deny me them not before I die. Remove far from 
me vanity and lies ; give me neither poverty nor 
riches ; feed me with food convenient for me." 
St. Paul, on the other hand, with greater fervency, 
because he was in more distressing circumstances, 
but with not more acceptableness on that account 
in God's sight, says, " I have learned in whatso- 
ever state I am, therewith to be content. I know 
both how to be abased, and I know how to 
abound ;" and so he proceeds. Again, Joshua 
says, simply but firmly, " As for me and my 
house, we will serve the Lord." St. Paul says as 
firmly, but with more emotion, when his friends 
besought him to keep away from Jerusalem : — 
" What, mean ye to weep and to break mine 
heart ? for I am ready not to be bound only, but 
also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord 
Jesus." Observe how calm Job is in his resiffna- 
tion : " The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken 
away ; blessed be the name of the Lord." And on 
the other hand, how calmly that same Apostle 
expresses his assurance of salvation at the close 
of his life, who, during the struggle, was acci-j 
dentally agitated : — " I am now ready to be offered.' 


I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is 

laid up for me a crown of righteousness '." 

These remarks may suffice to show the relation 
which excited feelings bear to true religious prin- 
ciple. They are sometimes natural, sometimes 
suitable; but they are not religion itself. They 
come and go. They are not to be counted on, or 
encouraged ; for, as in St. Peter's case, they may 
supplant true faith, and lead to self-deception. 
They will gradually lose their place within us 
as our obedience becomes confirmed; — partly be- 
cause those men are kept in perfect peace, and 
sheltered from all agitating feelings, whose minds 
are stayed on God^; — partly because these feel- 
ings themselves are fixed into habits by the power 
of faith, and instead of coming and going, and 
agitating the mind from their suddenness, they 
are permanently retained so far as there is any 
thing good in them, and give a deeper colour 
and a more energetic expression to the Christian 

Now, it will be observed, that in these remarks 
/ I have taken for granted, as not needing proof, 
that the highest Christian temper is free from all 
vehement and tumultuous feeling. But, if we 
wish some evidence of this, let us turn to our 
Great Pattern, Jesus Christ, and examine what 

» Prov. XXX. 7, 8. Phil. iv. U, 12. Josh. xxiv. 15. 
Acts xxi. 13. Job i. 21. 2 Tim. iv. 6 — 8. 
' Isaiah xxvi. 3. 


was the character of that perfect holiness which 
He alone of all men ever displayed. 

And can we find any where such calmness 
and simplicity as marked His devotion and His 
obedience? When does He ever speak with fer- 
vour or vehemence ? Or, if there be one or two 
words of His in His mysterious agony and death, 
characterized by an energy which we do not com- 
prehend, and which sinners must silently adore, 
still how conspicuous and undeniable is His com- 
posure in the general tenour of His words and 
conduct ! Consider the prayer He gave us ; and 
this is the more to the purpose, for the very reason 
that He has given it as a model for our worship. 
How plain and unadorned is it ! How few are 
the words of it! How grave and solemn the 
petitions ! What an entire absence of tumult 
and feverish emotion ! Surely our own feelings 
tell us, it could not be otherwise. To suppose 
it otherwise were an irreverence towards Him. — 
At another time when He is said to have "re- 
joiced in spirit," His thanksgiving is marked with 
the same undisturbed tranquillity. " I thank 
Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that 
Thou hast hid these things from the wise and 
prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 
Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy 
sight." — Again, think of His prayer in the garden. 
He then was in distress of mind beyond our un- 
derstanding. Something there was, we know not 


what, which weighed heavy upon Him. He 
prayed He might be spared the extreme bitterness 
of His trial. Yet how subdued and how concise 
is His petition ! " Abba, Father, all things are 
possible unto Thee : take away this cup from Me ; 
nevertheless, not what I will, but what Thou 
wilt'." And this is but one instance, though a 
chief one, of that deep tranquillity of mind, 
which is conspicuous throughout the solemn his- 
tory of the Atonement. Read the thirteenth 
chapter of St. John, in which He is described 
as washing His disciples' feet, Peter's in parti- 
cular. Reflect upon His serious words addressed 
at several times to Judas who betrayed Him ; and 
His conduct when seized by His enemies, when 
brought before Pilate, and lastly, when suffering 
on the cross. When does He set us an example 
of passionate devotion, of enthusiastic wishes, or 
of intemperate words? 

Such is the lesson our Saviour's conduct teaches 
us. Now let me remind you, how diligently we 
are taught the same by our oMai Church. Christ 
gave us a prayer to guide us in praying to the 
Father; and upon this model our own Liturgy 
is strictly formed. You will look in vain in the 
Prayer-book for long or vehement Prayers ! for it 
is but upon occasions that agitation of mind is 
right, but there is ever a call upon us for serious- 

' Luke X. 21. Mark xiv. 36. 


ness, gravity, simplicity, deliberate trust, deep- 
seated humility. Many persons, doubtless, think 
the Church prayers, for this very reason, cold and 
formal. They do not discern their high perfec- 
tion, and they think they could easily write better 
prayers. When' such opinions are advanced, it 
is quite sufficient to turn our thoughts to our 
Saviour's precept and example. It cannot be 
denied that those who thus speak, ought to con- 
sider our Lord's prayer defective; and sometimes 
they are profane enough to think so, and to con- 
fess they think so. But I pass this by. Granting 
for argument's sake His precepts were intentionally 
defective, as delivered before the Holy Ghost 
descended, yet what will they say to His example? 
Can even the fullest light of the Gospel revealed 
after His resurrection, bring us His followers into 
the remotest resemblance to our Blessed Lord's 
holiness ? yet how calm was He, who was perfect 
man, in His own obedience ! 

To conclude : — Let us take warning from St. 
Peter's fall. Let us not promise much ; let us 
not talk much of ourselves; let us not be high- 
minded, nor encourage ourselves in impetuous 
bold language in religion. Let us take warning, 
too, from that fickle multitude who cried, first 
Hosanna, then Crucify. A miracle startled them 
into a sudden adoration of their Saviour ; — its 
effect upon them soon died away. And thus the 
especial mercies of God sometimes excite us for a 


season. We feel Christ speaking to us through 
our consciences and hearts ; and we fancy He is 
assuring us we are His true servants, when He 
is but calling on us to receive Him. Let us not 
be content with saying " Lord, Lord," without 
" doing the thing which He says." The husband- 
man's son who said, " I go, sir," yet went not to 
the vineyard, gained nothing by his fair words. 
One secret act of self-denial, one sacrifice of incli- 
nation to duty, is worth all the mere good 
thoughts, warm feelings, passionate prayers, in 
which idle people indulge themselves. It will 
give us more comfort on our death-bed to reflect 
on one deed of self-denying mercy, purity, or 
humility, than to recollect the shedding of many 
tears, and the recurrence of frequent transports, 
and much spiritual exultation. These latter feel- 
ings come and go; they may or may not accom- 
pany hearty obedience ; they are never tests of it ; 
but good actions are the fruits of faith, and assure 
us that we are Christ's; they comfort us as an 
evidence of the Spirit working in us. By them 
we shall be judged at the last day ; and though 
they have no worth in themselves, by reason of 
that infection of sin which gives its character 
to every thing we do, yet they will be accepted 
for His sake, who bore the agony in the garden, 
and suffered as a sinner on the cross. 



Romans iv. 20, 21. 

" He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but 
was strong in faith, giving glory to God : and being fully- 
persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to 

There are serious men who are in the habit 
of describing Christian Faith as a feeling or a 
principle such as ordinary persons cannot enter 
into ; a something strange and peculiar in its very 
nature, different in kind from every thing that 
affects and influences us in matters of this world, 
and not admitting any illustration from our con- 
duct in them. They consider that, because it is 
a spiritual gift, and heavenly in its origin, it is 
therefore altogether superhuman; and that to 
compare it to any of our natural principles or 
feelings, is to think unworthily of it. And thus 
they lead others, who wish an excuse for their 
own irreligious lives, to speak of Christian Faith 
as extravagant and irrational, as if it were a mere 


fancy or feeling, which some persons had and 
others had not; and which, accordingly, could 
only, and would necessarily, be felt by those who 
were disposed that certain way. Now, that the 
object on which Faith fixes our thoughts, that the 
doctrines of Scripture are most marvellous and 
exceeding in glory, unheard and unthought of else- 
where, is quite true; and it is also true that no 
mind of man will form itself to a habit of Faith 
without the preventing and assisting influences of 
Divine Grace. But it is not at all true that Faith 
itself, i. e. Trust, is a strange principle of action ; 
and to say that it is irrational is even an absurdity. 
I mean such a Faith as that of Abraham, men- 
tioned in the text, which led him to believe God's 
word when opposed to his own experience. And it 
shall now' be my endeavour to show this. 

To hear some men speak, (I mean men who 
scoff at religion,) it might be thought we never 
acted on Faith or Trust, except in religious mat- 
ters ; whereas we are acting on trust every hour of 
our lives. When faith is said to be a religious 
principle, it is (I repeat) the things believed, not 
the act of believing them, which is peculiar to reli- 
gion. Let us take some examples. 

It is obvious we trust our memory. We do not 
now witness what we saw yesterday; yet we have 
no doubt it took place in the way we remember. 
We recollect clearly the circumstances of morning 
and afternoon. Our confidence in our memory 


is SO strong, that a man might reason with us all 
day long, without persuading us that we slept 
through the day, or that we returned from a long 
journey, when our memory deposes otherwise. Thus 
we have faith in our memory ; yet Mhat is irrational 

Again, even when we use reasoning, and are 
convinced of any thing by reasoning, what is it 
but that we trust the general soundness of our 
reasoning powers? From knowing one thing we 
think we can be sure about another, even though 
we do not see it. Who of us would doubt, on 
seeing strong shadows on the ground, that the sun 
was shining out, though our face happened to be 
turned the other way ? Here is faith without sight ; 
but there is nothing against reason here, unless 
reason can be against itself. 

And what I wish you particularly to observe, 
is, that we continually trust our memory and our 
reasoning powers in this way, though they often 
deceive us. This is worth observing, because it is 
sometimes said that we cannot be certain our faith 
in religion is not a mistake. I say our memory 
and reason often deceive us ; yet no one says it is 
therefore absurd and irrational to continue to 
trust them ; and for this plain reason, because 
on the whole they are true and faithful witnesses, 
because it is only at times that they mislead us; 
so that the chance is, that they are right in this 
case or that, which happens to be before us ; and 


(again) because in all practical matters we are 
obliged to dwell upon not what may he possibly, 
but what is likely to be. In matters of daily life, 
we have no time for fastidious and perverse fancies 
about the minute chances of our being deceived. 
We are obliged to act at once, or we should cease 
to live. There is a chance (it cannot be denied) 
that our food to-day may be poisonous, — we can- 
not be quite certain, — but it looks the same and 
tastes the same, and we have good friends round 
us; so we do not abstain from it, for all this 
chance, though it is real. This necessity of 
acting promptly is our happiness in this world's 
matters ; in the concerns of a future life, alas ! we 
have time for carnal and restless thoughts about 
possibilities. And this is our trial; and it will 
be our condemnation, if with the experience of 
the folly of such idle fancyings about what may 
be, in matters of this life, we yet indulge them as 
regards the future. If it be said, that we some- 
times do distrust our reasoning powers, for instance, 
when they lead us to some unexpected conclusion, 
or again our memory, when another's memory 
contradicts it, this only shows that there are things 
which we should be weak or hasty in believing; 
which is quite true. Doubtless there is such a 
fault as credulity, or believing too readily and 
too much, (and this, in religion, we call super- 
stition,) but this neither shows that aU trust is 
irrational, nor again that trust is necessarily irra- 


tional, which is founded on what is but likely to be, 
and may be denied without an actual absurdity. 
Indeed, when we come to examine the subject, it 
will be found that, strictly speaking, we know little 
more than that we exist, and that there is an Un- 
seen Power whom we are bound to obey. Beyond 
this we must trust ; and first our senses, memory, 
and reasoning powers ; then other authorities : — so 
that, in fact, almost all we do, every day of our 
lives, is on trust, i. e. faith. 

But it may be said, that belief in these inform- 
ants, our senses, and the like, is not what is com- 
monly meant by faith ; — that to trust our senses 
and reason is in fact nothing more than to trust 
ourselves; — and though these do sometimes mislead 
us, yet they are so continually about us, and so at 
command, that we can use them to correct each 
other; so that on the whole we gain from these 
the truth of things quite well enough to act upon ; 
— that on the other hand it is a very different thing 
from this to trust another person ; and that faith, in 
the Scripture sense of the word, is trusting another, 
and therefore is not proved to be rational by the 
foregoing illustrations. 

Let us, then, understand faith in this sense of 
reliance on the words of another, as opposed to 
trust in oneself. This is the common meaning of 
the word, I grant ; — as when we contrast it to 
sight and to reason ; and yet what I have already 
said has its use in reminding men who are eager 


for demonstration in matters of religion, that there 
are difficulties in matters of sense and reasoning 
also. But to proceed as I have proposed. — It is 
easy to show, that, even considering faith as trust 
in another, it is no irrational or strange principle of 
conduct in the concerns of this life. 

For when we consider the subject attentively, 
how few things there are which we can ascertain 
for ourselves by our own senses and reason ! After 
all, what do we know without trusting others ? We 
know that vre are in a certain state of health, in a 
certain place, have been alive for a certain number 
of years, have certain principles and likings, have 
certain persons around us, and perhaps have in our 
lives travelled to certain places at a distance. But 
what do we know more? Are there not towns 
(we will say) within fifty or sixty miles of us which 
"we have never seen, and which, nevertheless, we 
fully believe to be, as we have heard them de- 
scribed ? To extend our view ; — we know that land 
stretches in every direction of us, a certain number 
of miles, and then there is sea on all sides ; that 
"we are in an island. But who has seen the land 
all around, and has proved for himself that the 
fact is so ? What, then, convinces us of it ? 
the re'port of others, — this trust, this faith in tes- 
timony which, when religion is concerned, then, 
and only then, the proud and sinful would fain call 

And what I have instanced in one set of facts, 


which we believe, is equally true of numberless 
others, of almost all which we think we know. 

Consider how men in the business of life, nay, 
all of us, confide, are obliged to confide, in per- 
sons we never saw, or know but slightly ; nay, 
in their hand-writings, which, for what we know, 
may be forged, if we are to speculate and fancy 
what may be. We act upon our trust in them 
implicitly, because common sense tells us, that 
with proper caution and discretion, faith in others 
is perfectly safe and rational. Scripture, then, 
only bids us act in respect to a future life, as 
we are every day acting at present. Or, again, 
how certain we all are (when we think on the 
subject) that we must sooner or later die. No 
one seriously thinks he can escape death ; and 
men dispose of their property and arrange their 
affairs, confidently contemplating, not indeed the 
exact time of their death, still death as sooner 
or later to befal them. Of course they do ; it 
would be most irrational in them not to expect 
it. Yet observe, what proof has any one of us 
that he shall die? because other men die? how 
does he know that? has he seen them die? he 
can know nothing of what took place before he 
was born, nor of what happens in other countries. 
How little, indeed, he knows about it at all, 
except that it is a received facU and except that it 
would, in truth, be idle to doubt what mankind as 
a whole witness, though each individual has only 
VOL. I. Q 


his proportionate share in the universal testimony ! 
And, further, we constantly believe things even 
against our own judgment ; i. e. when we think 
our informant likely to know more about the 
matter under consideration than ourselves, which 
is the precise case in the question of religious 
faith. And thus from reliance on others we 
acquire knowledge of all kinds, and proceed to 
reason, judge, decide, act, form plans for the 
future. And in all this (I say) trust is at the 
bottom ; and this the world calls prudence (and 
rightly) ; and not to trust, and act upon trust, 
imprudence^ or (it may be) headstrong folly, or 

But it is needless to proceed ; the world could 
not go on without it. The most distressing event 
that can happen to a state is (we know) the 
spreading of a want of confidence between man 
and man. Distrust, want of faith^ breaks the 
very bonds of human society. Now, then, shall 
we account it only rational for a man, when he 
is ignorant, to believe his fellow-man, nay, to yield 
to another's judgment as better than his own, 
and yet think it against reason when one, like 
Abraham, gives ear to the Word of God, and 
sets the promise of God above his own short- 
sighted expectation? Abraham, it is true, rested 
in hope beyond hope, in the hope afforded by a 
Divine promise beyond that hope suggested by 
nature. He had fancied he never should have a 


SOD, and God promised him a son. But might 
he not well address those self-wise persons who 
neglect to walk in the steps of his faith, in the 
language of just reproof? *' If we receive the 
witness of Twew," (he might well urge with the 
Apostle,) " the witness of God is greater '." 
Therefore, he " staggered not at the promise of 
God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, 
giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded 
that what He had promised He was able also to 

But it may be objected ; " True, if we knew for 
certain God had spoken to us as He did to Abra- 
ham, it were then madness indeed in us to dis- 
believe Him ; but it is not His voice we hear, but 
man's speaking in His name. The Church tells us, 
that God has revealed to man His will ; and the 
Ministers of the Church point to a book which 
they say is holy, and contains the words of God. 
How are we to know whether they speak truth or 
not ? To believe this, is it according to reason or 
against it ?" 

This objection brings us to a very large and 
weighty question, though I do not think it is, 
generally speaking, a very practical one ; viz. what 
are our reasons for believing the Bible came from 
God ? If any one asks this in a scoffing way, he is 
not to be answered ; for he is profane, and exposes 

' 1 John V. 9. 



himself to the curse pronounced by St. Paul upon 
the haters of the Lord Jesus. But if a man inquires 
sincerely, wishing to find the truth, waiting on God 
humbly, yet perplexed at knowing or witnessing 
the deeds of scorners and daring blasphemers, and 
at hearing their vain reasonings, and not knowing 
what to think or say about them, let him consider 
the following remarks, with which I conclude. 

Now, first, whatever such profane persons may 
say about their willingness to believe, if they could 
find reason, — however willing they may profess 
themselves to admit that we daily take things 
on trust, and that to act on faith is in itself quite 
a rational procedure, — though they may pretend 
that they do not quarrel with being required to 
believe, but say that they do think it hard that 
better evidence is not given them for believing 
what they are bid believe undoubtingly, the divine 
authority of the Bible, — in spite of all this, depend 
upon it, (in a very great many cases,) they do 
murmur at being required to believe, they do dis- 
like being bound to act without seeing, they do 
prefer to trust themselves to trusting God, even 
though it coidd be plainly proved to them that 
God was in truth speaking to them. Did they 
see God, did He show Himself as He will appear 
at the last day, still they would be faithful to their 
own miserable and wretched selves, and would 
be practically disloyal to the authority of God. 
Their conduct shows this. Why otherwise do 


they so frequently scoff at religious men, as if 
timid and narrow-minded, merely because they 
fear to sin ? Why do they ridicule such consci- 
entious persons as will not swear, or jest indeco- 
rously, or live dissolutely? Clearly, it is their 
very faith itself they ridicule ; not their believing 
on false grounds, but their believing at all. Here 
they show what it is which rules them within. 
They do not like the tie of religion ; they do not 
like dependence. To trust another, much more 
to trust him implicitly, is to acknowledge one- 
self to be his inferior ; and this man's proud 
nature cannot bear to do. He is apt to think 
it unmanly, and to be ashamed of it; he promises 
himself liberty by breaking the chain (as he con- 
siders it) which binds him to his Maker and 
Redeemer. You will say, Mhy then do such men 
trust each other if they are so proud ? I answer, 
that they cannot help it; and, again, that while 
they trust, they are trusted in turn ; which puts 
them on a sort of equality with others. Unless 
this mutual dependence takes place, it is true, 
they cannot bear to be bound to trust another, to 
depend on him. And this is the reason that such 
men are so given to cause tumults and rebellions 
in national affairs. They set up some image of 
freedom in their minds, a freedom from the 
shackles of dependence, which they think their 
natural right, and which they aim to gain for 
themselves ; a liberty, much like that which 


Satan aspired after, when he rebelled against God. 
So, let these men profess what they will, about 
their not finding fault with Faith on its own ac- 
count, they do dislike it. And it is therefore very 
much to our purpose to accustom our minds to the 
fact, on which I have been insisting, that almost 
every thing we do is grounded on mere trust in 
others. We are from our birth dependent crea- 
tures, utterly dependent; — dependent immediately 
on man ; and that visible dependence reminds us 
forcibly of our truer and fuller dependence upon 

Next, I observe, that these unbelieving men, 
who use hard vk^ords against Scripture, condemn 
themselves out of their own mouth ; — in this way. 
It is a mistake to suppose that our obedience to 
God's will is merely founded on our belief in the 
word of such persons as tell us Scripture came 
from God. We obey God primarily because we 
actually feel His presence in our consciences 
bidding us obey Him. And this, I say, confutes 
these objectors on their own ground ; because the 
very reason they give for their unbelief is, that 
they trust their own sight and reason, because 
their own, more than the words of God's Minis- 
ters. Now, let me ask, if they trust their senses 
and their reason, why do they not trust their 
conscience too ? Is not conscience their own ? 
Their conscience is as much a part of themselves 
as their reason is; and it is placed within them 


by Almighty God in order to balance the influence 
of sight and reason ; and yet they will not attend 
to it ; for a plain reason, — they love sin, — they love 
to be their own masters, and therefore they will 
not attend to that secret whisper of their hearts, 
which tells them they are not their own masters, 
and that sin is hateful and ruinous. 

Nothing shows this more plainly than their 
conduct, if ever you appeal to their conscience in, 
favour of your view of the case. Supposing they 
are using profane language, murmurings, or scoffings 
at religion; and supposing a man says to them, 
" You know in your heart you should not do so ;" 
how will they reply ? They immediately get angry ; 
or they attempt to turn what is said into ridicule ; 
any thing will they do, except answer by reasoning. 
No ; their boasted argumentation then fails them. 
It flies like a coward before the slight stirring of 
conscience ; and their passions, these are the only 
champions left for their defence. They in effect 
say, " We do so, because we like it ;" perhaps they 
even avow this in so many words. " He feedeth on 
ashes ; a deceived heart hath turned him aside, 
that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there 
not a lie in my right hand ' ?" 

And are such the persons whom any Christian 
can in any degree trust? Surely faith in them 
would be of all conceivable confidences the most 

' Isa. xliv. 20. 


irrational, the most misplaced. Can we allow 
ourselves to be perplexed and frightened at the 
words of those who carry upon them the tokens 
of their own inconsistency, the mark of Cain ? 
Surely not ; and as that first rebel's mark was set 
on him, " lest any finding him should kill him," in 
like manner their presence but reminds us thereby 
to view them with love, though most sorrowfully, 
and to pray earnestly, and do our utmost, (if there 
is ought we can do) that they may be spared the 
second death; — to look on them with awe, as a 
land cursed by God, the plain of Siddim or the 
ruins of Babel, but which He, for our Redeemer's 
sake, is able to renew and fertilize. 

For ourselves, let us but obey God's voice in our 
hearts, and I will venture to say we shall have no 
doubts practically formidable about the truth of 
Scripture. Find out the man who strictly obeys 
the law within him, and yet is an unbeliever as 
regards the Bible, and then it will be time enough 
to consider all that variety of proof by which the 
truth of the Bible is confirmed to us. This is no 
practical inquiry for us. Our doubts, if we have 
any, will be found to arise after disobedience ; it is 
bad company or corrupt books which lead to unbe- 
lief. It is sin which quenches the Holy Spirit. 

And if we but obey God strictly, in time (through 
His blessing) faith will become like sight ; we shall 
have no more diflficulty in finding what will please 
God than in moving our limbs, or in understanding 


the conversation of our familiar friends. This is 
the blessedness of confirmed obedience. Let us 
aim at attaining it ; and in whatever proportion 
we now enjoy it, praise and bless God for His un- 
speakable gift. 



John iii. 9. 
'* How can these things he ?" 

There is much instruction conveyed in the cir- 
cumstance, that the Feast of the Holy Trinity 
immediately succeeds that of Whit Sunday. On 
the latter Festival we commemorate the coming 
of the Spirit of God, who is promised to us as 
the source of all spiritual knowledge and discern- 
ment. But lest we should forget the nature of 
that illumination which He imparts, Trinity Sun- 
day follows, to tell us what it is not ; not a light 
according to the reason, the gifts of the intellect ; 
inasmuch as the Gospel has its mysteries, its diffi- 
culties, and secret things, which the Holy Spirit 
does not remove. 

The grace promised us is given, not that we 
may know more, but that we may do better. It is 
given to influence, guide, and strengthen us in 
performing our duty towards God and man ; it 


is given to us as creatures, as sinners, as men, as 
immortal beings, not as mere reasoners, disputers, 
or philosophical inquirers. It teaches us what we 
are, whither we are going, what we must do, how 
we must do it ; it enables us to change our fallen 
nature from evil to good, " to make ourselves a 
new heart and a new spirit." But it tells us nothing 
for the sake of telling it; neither in His Holy 
Word nor through our consciences has the blessed 
Spirit thought fit so to act. Not that the desire of 
knowing sacred things for the sake of knowing 
them is wTong. As knowledge about earth, sky, 
and sea, and the wonders they contain, is in itself 
valuable, and in its place desirable, so doubtless 
there is nothing sinful in gazing wistfully at the 
marvellous providences of God's moral governance, 
and wishing to understand them. But still God 
has not given us such knowledge in the Bible; 
and therefore to look into the Bible for such know- 
ledge, or to expect it in any way from the inward 
teaching of the Holy Ghost, is a dangerous mistake, 
and (it may be) a sin. And since men are apt 
to prize knowledge above holiness, therefore it is 
most suitably provided, that Trinity Sunday 
should succeed Whit Sunday; to warn us that 
the enlightening vouchsafed to us is not an under- 
standing of "all mysteries and all knowledge," 
but that love or charity which is " the fulfilling of 
the Law." 

And in matter of fact there have been very 


grievous mistakes respecting the nature of Chris- 
tian knowledge. There have been at all times men 
so ignorant of the object of Christ's coming, as to 
consider mysteries inconsistent vrith the light of 
the Gospel. They have thought the darkness of 
Judaism, of which Scripture speaks, to be a state 
of intellectual ignorance ; and Christianity to be, 
what they term, a "rational religion." And hence 
they have argued, that no doctrine which was 
mysterious^ i. e. too deep for human reason, or 
inconsistent with their self-devised notions, could 
be contained in Scripture ; as if it were honouring 
Christ to maintain that when He said a thing, 
He could not have meant what He said, because 
they would not have said it. Nicodemus, though 
a sincere inquirer, and (as the event shows) a true 
follower of Christ, yet at first was startled at the 
mysteries of the Gospel. He said to Christ, " How 
can these things be?" He felt the temptation, 
and overcame it. But there are others who are 
altogether offended and fall away on being exposed 
to it ; as those mentioned in the sixth chapter of 
St. John's Gospel, who went back and walked no 
more with Him. 

The Feast of Trinity succeeds Pentecost; the 
light of the Gospel does not remove mysteries in 
religion. This is our subject. Let us enlarge 
upon it. 

1. Let us consider such difficulties of religion, 
as press upon us independently of the Scriptures. 


Now we shall find the Gospel has not removed 
these; they remain as great as before Christ 
came. — How excellent is this world! how very 
good and fair is the face of nature ! how pleasant 
it is to walk into the green country, and "to 
meditate in the field at the eventide ^ !" As we 
look around, we cannot but be persuaded that 
God is most good, and loves His creatures; yet 
amid all the splendour we see around us, and the 
happy beings, thousands and ten thousands, which 
live in the air and water, the question comes 
upon us, " But why is there pain in the world f" 
We see that the brutes prey on each other, inflict- 
ing violent, unnatural deaths. Some of them, 
too, are enemies of man, and harm us when they 
have an opportunity. And man tortures others 
unrelentingly, nay, condemns some of them to 
a life of suffering. Much more do pain and 
misery show themselves in the history of man ; — 
the numberless diseases and casualties of human 
life, and our sorrows of mind; — then, further, 
the evils we inflict on each other, our sins and 
their awful consequences. Now why does God 
permit so much evil in His own world ? This is 
a difficulty, I say, which we feel at once, before 
we open the Bible ; and which we are quite 
unable to solve. We open the Bible; the fact 
is acknowledged there, but it is not explained at 

' Gen. xxiv. 63. 


all. We are told that sin entered into the world 
through the Devil, who tempted Adam to disobe- 
dience ; so that God created the world good, though 
evil is in it. But why He thought fit to suffer this 
we are not told. We know no more on the sub- 
ject than we did before opening the Bible. It was 
a mystery before God gave His revelation, it is as 
great a mystery now ; and doubtless for this reason, 
because knowledge about it would do us no good, 
it would merely satisfy curiosity. It is not prac- 
tical knowledge. 

2. Nor, again, are the difficulties of Judaism 
removed by Christianity. The Jews were told, 
that if they put to death certain animals, they 
should be admitted by way of consequence into 
God's favour, which their continual transgressions 
were ever forfeiting. Now there was something 
mysterious here. How should the death of unof- 
fending creatures make God gracious to the 
Jews ? They could not tell, of course. All that 
could be said to the point was, that in the daily 
course of human affairs the unoffending constantly 
suffer instead of the offenders. One man is ever 
suffering for the fault of another. But this expe- 
rience did not lighten the difficulty of so myste- 
rious a provision. It was still a mystery that 
God's favour should depend on the death of brute 
animals. Does Christianity solve this difficulty ? 
No ; it continues it. The Jewish sacrifices indeed 
are done away, but still there remains One Great 


Sacrifice for sin, infinitely higher and more sacred 
than all other conceivable sacrifices. According 
to the Gospel message, Christ has voluntarily suf- 
fered, " the just for the unjust, to bring us to God." 
Here is the mystery continued. Why was this 
suffering necessary to procure for us the blessings 
which we were in ourselves unworthy of? We do 
not know. We should not be better men for 
knowing why God did not pardon us without 
Christ's death ; so He has not told us. One suffers 
for another in the ordinary course of things ; and 
under the Jewish Law, too ; and in the Christian 
scheme ; and why all this, is still a mystery. 

Another difi&culty to a thoughtful Israelite 
would arise from considering the state of the 
heathen world. Why did not Almighty God 
bring all nations into His Church, and teach 
them, by direct revelation, the sin of idol-worship ? 
He would not be able to answer. God had 
chosen one nation. It is true the same principle 
of preferring one to another is seen in the system 
of the whole world. God gives men unequal 
advantages, comforts, education, talents, health. 
Yet this does not satisfy us, why He has thought 
fit to do so at all. Here, again, the Gospel re- 
cognises and confirms the mysterious fact. We 
are born in a Christian country, others are not ; 
we are baptized \. we are educated ; others are 
not. We are favoured above others. But why ? 
We cannot tell ; no more than the Jews could tell 


why they were favoured ; — and for this reason, 
because to know it is nothing to us ; it would not 
make us better men to know it. It is intended 
that we should look to ourselves, and rather 
consider why we have privileges given us, than 
why others have not the same. Our Saviour repels 
such curious questions more than once. " Lord 
and what shall this man do^?" St. Peter asked 
about St. John. Christ replied, " If I will that he 
tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou 

Thus the Gospel gives us no advantages in re- 
spect to mere barren knowledge, above the Jew, or 
above the unenlio^htened heathen. 

3. Nay, we may proceed to say, further than 
this, that it increases our difficulties. It is indeed 
a remarkable circumstance, that the very revela- 
tion that brings us practical and useful knowledge 
about our souls, in the very act of doing so, nay, 
(as it would seem) in consequence of doing so, 
brings us mysteries. We gain spiritual light at 
the price of intellectual perplexity ; a blessed ex- 
change doubtless, (for which is better, to be well 
and happy within ourselves, or to know what is 
going on at the world's end ?) still at the price of 
perplexity. For instance, how infinitely impor- 
tant and blessed is the news of eternal happiness ? 
but we learn in connexion with this joyful truth, 


I John xxi. 21, 22. 


that there is a state of endless misery too. Now, 
how great a mystery is this ! yet the difficulty 
goes hand in hand with the spiritual blessing. It 
is still more strikingly to the point to refer to the 
message of mercy itself. We are saved by the 
death of Christ ; but who is Christ ? Christ is the 
Very Son of God, Begotten of God and One with 
God from everlasting, God incarnate. This is 
our inexpressible comfort, and a most sanctifying 
truth if we receive it rightly ; but how stupendous 
a mystery is the incarnation and sufferings of the 
Son of God ! Here, not merely do the good 
tidings and the mystery go together, as in the 
revelation of eternal life and eternal death, but 
the very doctrine which is the mystery, brings the 
comfort also. Weak, ignorant, sinful, desponding, 
sorrowful man, gains the knowledge of an infinitely 
merciful Protector, a Giver of all good, most power- 
ful, the Worker of all righteousness within him; 
at what price ? at the price of a mystery. " The 
Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and 
we beheld His glory ;" and He laid down His life 
for the world. What rightly disposed mind but 
will gladly make the exchange, and exclaim, in the 
language of one whose words are almost sacred 
among us, " Let it be counted folly, or frenzy, or 
fury whatsoever; it is our comfort and our wis- 
dom. We care for no knowledge in the world 
but this, that man iiath sinned, and God hath 
suffered ; that God hath made Himself the Son of 

VOL. I. R 


man, and that men are made the righteousness of 

The same singular connexion between reh'gious 
light and comfort, and intellectual darkness, is 
also seen in the doctrine of the Trinity. Frail 
man requires pardon and sanctification ; can he 
do otherwise than gratefully devote himself to, and 
trust implicitly in, his Redeemer and his Sanc- 
tifier ? But if our Redeemer were not God, and 
our Sanctifier were not God, how great would 
have been our danger of preferring creatures to 
the Creator ! What a source of light, freedom, 
and comfort is it, to know we cannot love Them 
too much, or humble ourselves before Them too 
reverently, for both Son and Spirit are separately 
God ! Such is the practical effect of the doctrine ; 
but what a mystery also is therein involved ! 
What a source of perplexity and darkness (I say) 
to the reason, is the doctrine which immediately 
results from it ! for if Christ be by Himself God, 
and the Spirit be by Himself God, and yet there 
be but One God, here is plainly something alto- 
gether beyond our comprehension ; and, though 
we might have antecedently supposed there were 
numberless truths relating to Almighty God which 
we could neither know nor understand, yet certain 
as this is, it does not make this mystery at all less 
overpowering when it is revealed. 

* Hooker on Justification. 


And it is important to observe, that this doc- 
trine of the Trinity is not proposed in Scripture as 
a mystery. It seems then that, as we draw forth 
many remarkable facts concerning the natural 
world which do not lie on its surface, so by 
meditation we detect in Revelation this remark- 
able principle, which is not openly propounded, 
thai religious light is intellectual darkness. As if 
our gracious Lord had said to us ; " Scripture does 
not aim at making mysteries, but they are as 
shadows brought out by the Sun of Truth. When 
you knew nothing of revealed light, you knew 
not revealed darkness. Religious truth requires 
you should be told something^ your own imperfect 
nature prevents your knowing all; and to know 
something, and not all, — partial knowledge, — must of 
course perplex ; doctrines imperfectly revealed must 
be mysterious." 

4. Such being the necessary mysteriousness of 
Scripture doctrine, how can we best turn it to 
account in the contest we are engaged in with 
our evil hearts? Now we are given to see how 
to do this in part, and, as far as we see, let us be 
thankful for the gift. It seems then, that diffi- 
culties in revelation are especially given to prove 
the reality of our faith. What shall separate the 
insincere from the sincere follower of Christ? 
When the many own Christ with their lips, what 
shall try and discipline His true servant, and 
detect the self-deceiver? Difficulties in revela- 



tion mainly contribute to this end They are 
stumbling-blocks to proud and unhumbled minds, 
and were intended to be such. Faith is unas- 
suming, modest, thankful, obedient. It receives 
with reverence and love whatever God gives, when 
convinced it is His gift. But when men do not 
feel rightly their need of His redeeming mercy, 
their lost condition and their inward sin, when, 
in fact, they do not seek Christ in good earnest, 
in order to gain something, and do something, 
but as a matter of curiosity, or speculation, or 
form, of course these difficulties will become great 
objections in the way of their receiving His word 
simply. And I say these difficulties were intended 
to be such by Him who " scattereth the proud in 
the imagination of their hearts." St. Peter assures 
us, that that same corner-stone which is unto them 
that believe '■^ precious^* is "unto them which be 
disobedient, a stone of stumbling, and a rock of 
offence," "whereunto also (he adds) they were ap- 
pointed \" And our Lord's conduct through His 
ministry is a continued example of this. He spoke 
in parables ^, that they might see and hear, yet not 
understand, — a righteous detection of insincerity ; 
whereas the same difficulties and obscurities, which 
offended irreligious men, would but lead the hum- 
ble and meek to seek for more light, for informa- 
tion as far as it was to be obtained, and for resig- 

» 1 Pet. ii. 7, 8. ' Vide Mark iv. 11—25, &c. 


nation and contentedness, where it was not given. 
When Jesus said, ..." Except ye eat the flesh of 
the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no 

life in you Many of His disciples .... said. 

This is a hard saying : who can hear it ? ... and 
from that time many .... went back, and walked 

no more with Him Then said Jesus unto the 

twelve. Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter 
answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go ? Thou 
hast the words of eternal life." Here is the trial 
of faith, a difficulty. Those " that believe not" fall 
away ; the true disciples remain firm, for they feel 
their eternal interests at stake, and ask the very 
plain and practical, as well as affectionate question, 
" To whom shall we go, if we leave Christ ^ ?" 

At another time our Lord says, "I thank Thee, 
Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou 
hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, 
(those who trust reason rather than Scripture and 
conscience,) and hast revealed them unto babes 
(those who humbly walk by faith). Even so, Father, 
for so it seemed good in Thy sight -." 

5. Now what do we gain from thoughts such as 
these ? Our Saviour gives us the conclusion, in the 
words which follow a passage just read to you. 
" Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come 
unto Me, except it were given him of My Father." 
Or, again, " No man come to Me, except the 

' John vi. 53—68. ' Matt. xi. 25, 26. 


Father, which hath sent Me, draw him." There- 
fore, if we feel the necessity of coming to Christ, 
yet the difficulty, let us recollect that the gift of 
coming is in God's hands, and that we must pray 
Him to give it to us. Christ does not merely tell 
us, that we cannot come of ourselves, (though this 
He does tell us,) but He tells us also with whom 
the power of coming is lodged, with His Father, 
that we may seek it of Him. It is true, religion 
has an austere appearance to those who never have 
tried it ; its doctrines full of mystery, its precepts 
of harshness ; so that it is uninviting, offending 
different men in different ways, but in some way 
offending all. When then we feel within us the 
risings of this opposition to Christ, proud aversion 
to His Gospel, or a low-minded longing after this 
world, let us pray God to draw us ; and though we 
cannot move a step without Him, at least let us 
try to move. He looks into our hearts and sees 
our strivings even before we strive, and He blesses 
and strengthens even our feebleness. Let us get 
rid of curious and presumptuous thoughts by going 
about our business, whatever it is ; and let us mock 
and baffle the doubts which Satan whispers to us 
by acting against them. No matter whether we 
believe doubtingly or not, or know clearly or not, 
so that we act upon our belief. The rest will follow 
in time; part in this world, part in the next. 
Doubts may pain, but they cannot harm, unless we 
give way to them ; and that we ought not to give 


way our conscience tells us, so that our course is 
plain. And the more we are in earnest to " work 
out our salvation," the less shall we care to know 
how those things really are, which perplex us. At 
length, when our hearts are in our work, we shall 
be indisposed to take the trouble of listening to 
curious truths, (if they are but curious,) though we 
might have them explained to us. For what says 
the Holy Scripture ? that of speculations " there is 
no end," and they are " a weariness of the flesh ;" 
but that we must " fear God and keep His com- 
mandments; for this is the whole duty of man'." 

' Eccles. xii. 12, 13. 



1 Cor. iii. 18, 19. 

" Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth 
to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may 
be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with 
God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own 

Among the various deceptions against which St. 
Paul warns us, a principal one is that of a false 
wisdom; as in the text. The Corinthians prided 
themselves on their intellectual acuteness and 
knowledge ; as if any thing could equal the excel- 
lence of Christian love. Accordingly, St. Paul 
writing to them says, " Let no man deceive him- 
self. If any man among you seemeth to be wise 
in this world," (i. e. has the reputation of wisdom 
in the world,) " let him become a fool, (what the 
world calls a fool,) that he may (really) be wise." 
" For," he proceeds, (just as real wisdom is foolish- 
ness in the eyes of the world, so in turn,) " the 
wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." 


This warning of the Apostle against our trust- 
ing our own wisdom, may lead us, through God's 
blessing, to some profitable reflections to-day. 

The world's wisdom is said to he foolishness in 
God's sight; and the end of it error, perplexity, 
and then ruin. " He taketh the wise in their own 
craftiness." Here is one especial reason why 
professed inquirers after Truth do not find it. 
They seek it in a wrong way, by a vain wisdom, 
which leads them away from the Truth, however it 
may seem to promise success. 

Let us then inquire what is this vain wisdom, 
and then we shall the better see how it leads 
men astray. 

Now, when it is said that to trust our own 
notions is a wrong thing and a vain wisdom, of 
course this is not meant of all our own notions 
whatever ; for we must trust our own notions in 
one shape or other, and some notions which we 
form are right and true. The question, therefore, 
is, what is that evil trusting to ourselves, that sin- 
ful self-confidence, or self-conceit, which is called 
in the text the " wisdom of the world," and is a 
chief cause of our going wrong in our religious 

These are the notions which we may trust with- 
out blame ; viz. such as come to us by way of our 
Conscience, for such come from God. I mean 
our certainty that there is a right and a wrong. 


that some things ought to be done, and other 
things not done ; that we have duties, the neglect 
of which brings remorse ; and further, that God 
is good, wise, powerful, and righteous, and that 
we should try to obey Him. All these notions, 
and a multitude of others like these, come by 
natural conscience, i. e. they are impressed on 
all our minds from our earliest years without our 
trouble. They do not proceed from the mere 
exertion of our minds, though it is true they 
are strengthened and formed thereby. They pro- 
ceed from God, whether within us or without us ; 
and though we cannot trust them so implicitly as 
we can trust the Bible, because the truths of the 
Bible are actually preserved in writing, and so 
cannot be lost or altered, still, as far as we have 
reason to think them true, we may rely in them, 
and make much of them, without incurring the 
sin of self-confidence. These notions which we 
obtain without our exertion will never make us 
proud or conceited, because they are ever at- 
tended with a sense of sin and guilt, from the 
remembrance that we have at times transgressed 
and injured them. To trust them is not the false 
wisdom of the world, or foolishness, because they 
come from the All-wise God. And far from lead- 
ing a man into error, they will, if obeyed, of a 
certainty lead him to a firm belief in Scripture ; 
in which he will find all those vague conjectures 


and imperfect notions about Truth, which his 
own heart taught him, abundantly sanctioned, 
completed, and illustrated. 

Such then are the opinions and feelings of 
whicli a man is not proud. What are those of 
which he is likely to be proud ? those which he 
obtains, not by nature, but by his own industry, 
ability, and research ; those which he possesses 
and others not. Every one is in danger of valuing 
himself for what he does; and hence truths (or 
fancied truths) which a man has obtained for him- 
self after much thought and labour, such he is 
apt to make much of, and to rely upon; and 
this is the source of that vain wisdom of which 
the Apostle speaks in the text. 

Now, (I say,) this confidence in our own reasoning 
powers not only leads to pride, but to ^'foolishness " 
also, and destructive error, because it will oppose 
itself to Scripture. A man who fancies he can 
find out truth by himself, disdains revelation. 
He who thinks he has found it out, is impatient 
of revelation. He fears it will interfere with his 
own imaginary discoveries, he is unwilling to 
consult it; and when it does interfere, then he 
is angry. We hear much of this proud rejection 
of the truth in the Epistle from which the text 
is taken. The Jews felt anger, and the Greeks 
disdain, at the Christian doctrine. " The Jews 
required a sign, (according to their pre-conceived 
notions concerning the Messiah's coming,) and 


the Greeks seek after wisdom, (some subtle train 
of reasoning,) but we preach Christ crucified, 
unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the 
Greeks foolishness K" In another place the Apos- 
tle says of the misled Christians of Corinth, " Now 
ye are full " of your own notions, " now ye are 
rich, ye have reigned as kings without us' ;" i. e. 
you have prided yourself on a wisdom, " without," 
separate from, the truth of Apostolic doctrine. 
Confidence, then, in our own reasoning powers 
leads to (what St. Paul calls) foolishness, by 
causing in our hearts an indifference, or a dis- 
taste for Scripture information. 

But, besides thus keeping us from the best of 
guides, it also makes us fools, because it is a 
confidence in a bad guide. Our reasoning powers 
are very weak in all inquiries into moral and reli- 
gious truth. Clear-sighted as reason is on other 
subjects, and trust-worthy as a guide, still in 
questions connected with our duty to God and 
man it is very unskilful and equivocating. After 
all, it barely reaches the same great truths which 
are authoritatively set forth by Conscience and by 
Scripture ; and if it be used in religious inquiries, 
without reference to these divinely-sanctioned in- 
formants, the probability is, it will miss the Truth 
altogether. Thus the (so called) vdse will be 
taken in their own craftiness. All of us, doubt- 

' 1 Cor. i. 22, 23. ' 1 Cor. iv. 8. 


less, recollect our Lord's words, which are quite 
to the purpose ; " I thank Thee, O Father, Lord 
of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these 
things from the wise and prudent, (those who trust 
in their own intellectual powers,) and hast revealed 
them unto babes \" those, i. e. that act by faith 
and for conscience- sake. 

The false wisdom, then, of which St. Paul 
speaks in the text, is a trusting our own powers 
for arriving at religious truth, instead of taking 
what is divinely provided for us, whether in nature 
or revelation. This is the way of the world. In 
the world, Reason is set against Conscience, and 
usurps its power ; and hence men become " wise 
in their own conceits," and " leaning to their own 
understandings," "err from the truth." Let us 
now review some particulars of this contest be- 
tween our instinctive sense of right and wrong, 
and our weak and conceited reason. 

It begins within us, when childhood and boy- 
hood are past ; and the time comes for our en- 
trance into life. Before that time we trusted our 
divinely-enlightened sense of duty and our right 
feeling implicitly ; and though (alas !) we con- 
tinually transgressed, and so impaired this inward 
guide, at least we did not question its authority. 
Then we had that original temper of faith, wrought 
in us by baptism, the spirit of little children, 

' Matt. xi. 25. 


without which our Lord assures us, none of us, 
young or old, can enter the kingdom of heaven K 

But when our minds became more manly, and 
the world opened upon us, then in proportion to 
the intellectual gifts with which God had honoured 
us, came the temptation of unbelief and disobe- 
dience. Then came reason, led on by passion, 
to war against our better knowledge. We were 
driven into the wilderness, after our Lord's man- 
ner, by the very Spirit given us, which exposed 
us to the Devil's devices, before the time or power 
came of using the gift in God's service. And 
how many of the most highly endowed then fall 
away under trials which the sinless Son of God 
withstood ! He feels for all who are tempted, 
having Himself suffered temptation ; yet what a 
sight must He see, and by what great exercise of 
mercy must the Holy Jesus endure, the bold and 
wicked thoughts which often reign the most tri- 
umphantly in the breasts of those (at least for a 
time) whom He has commissioned by the abund- 
ance of their talents to be the especial ministers 
of His will ! 

A murmuring against that religious service 
which is perfect freedom, complaints that Christ's 
yoke is heavy, a rebellious rising against the 
authority of Conscience, and a proud arguing 
acjainst the Truth, or at least an endurance of 
doubt and scoffing, and a light, unmeaning use 
Matt, xviii. 3. 


of sceptical arguments and assertions, these are 
the beginnings of apostasy. Then come the affect- 
ation of originality, the desire to appear manly 
and independent, and the fear of the ridicule of 
our acquaintance, all combining to make us first 
speak, and then really think evil of the supreme 
authority of religion. This gradual transgression 
of the first commandment of the Law is generally 
attended by a transgression of the fifth. In our 
childhood we loved both religion and our home; 
but as we learn to despise the voice of God, so do 
we first affect, and then feel, an indifference 
towards the opinions of our superiors and elders. 
Thus our minds become gradually hardened 
against the purest pleasures, both divine and 

As this progress in sin continues, our disobe- 
dience becomes its own punishment. In propor- 
tion as we lean to our own understanding, we are 
driven to do so for want of a better guide. Our 
first true guide, the light of innocence, is gradually 
withdrawn from us ; and nothing is left for us but 
to "grope and stumble in the desolate places," 
by the dim, uncertain light of reason. Thus we 
are taken in our own craftiness. This is what 
is sometimes called judicial blindness ; such as Pha- 
raoh's, who, from resisting God's will, at length 
did not know the difference between light and 

How far each individual proceeds in this bad 


course, depends on a variety of causes, into the 
consideration of which I need not enter. Some 
are frightened at themselves, and turn back into 
the right way before it is too late. Others are 
checked ; and though they do not seek God with 
all their heart, yet are preserved from any strong 
and full manifestation of the evil principles which 
lurk within them ; and others are kept in a cor- 
rect outward form of religion by the circumstances 
in which they are placed. But there are others, 
and these many in number, perhaps in all ranks 
of life, who proceed onwards in evil ; and I will 
go on to describe in part their condition, — the 
condition, that is, of those in whom intellectual 
power is fearfully unfolded amid the neglect of 
moral truth. 

The most common case, of course, is that of 
those who, with their principles thus unformed, 
or rather unsettled, become engaged, in the ordi- 
nary way, in the business of life. Their first 
simplicity of character went early. The violence 
of passion followed, and was indulged ; and it is 
gone, too, leaving (without their suspecting it) 
most baneful effects on their mind ; just as some 
diseases silently change the constitution of the 
body. Lastly, a vain reason has put into disorder 
their notions about moral propriety and duty, 
both as to religion and the conduct of life. It 
is quite plain, that, having nothing of that faith 
which " overcomes the world," they must be 


overcome by it. Let it not be supposed I am 
speaking of some strange case which does not 
concern us ; for what we know, it concerns some 
of us most nearly. The issue of our youthful 
trial in good and evil, probably has had some- 
what of a decided character one way or the other ; 
and we may be quite sure that, if it has issued in 
evil, we shall not know it. Deadness to the 
voice of God, hardness of heart, is one of the 
very symptoms of unbelief God's judgments, 
whether to the world or the individual, are not 
loudly spoken. The decree goes forth to build or 
destroy; Angels hear it; but we go on in the 
way of the world as usual, though our souls may 
have been, at least for a season, abandoned by 
God. T mean, that it is not at all unlikely that, 
in the case of some of those who now hear me, a 
great part of their professed faith is a mere mat- 
ter of words, not ideas and principles; that what 
opinions they really hold by any exertion of their 
own minds, have been reached by the mere exercise 
of their intellect, the random and accidental use 
of their mere reasoning powers, whether they be 
strong or not, and are not the result of habitual, 
firm, and progressive obedience to God, not the 
knowledge which an honest and good heart im- 
parts. Our religious notions may lie on the mere 
surface of our minds, and have no root within 
them ; and (I say) from this circumstance, — that 
the indulgence of early passions, though forgotten 
VOL. I. s 


now, and the misapplication of reason in our youth, 
have left an indelibly evil character upon our heart, 
a judicial hardness and blindness. Let us think 
of this ; it may be the state of those who have 
had to endure only ordinary temptations, from the 
growth of that reasoning faculty with which we are 
all gifted. 

But when that gift of reason is something 
especial, — clear, brilliant, or powerful, — then our 
danger is increased. The first sin of men of supe- 
rior understanding is to value themselves upon it, 
and look down upon others. They make intellect 
the measure of praise and blame; and instead of 
considering a common Jaith to be the bond of 
union between Christian and Christian, tliey dream 
of some other fellowship of civilization, refinement, 
literature, science, or general mental illumination, 
to unite gifted minds one with another. Having 
thus cast down moral excellence from its true 
station, and set up the usurped empire of mere 
reason, next, they place a value upon all truths 
exactly in proportion to the possibility of proving 
them by means of that mere reason. Hence, 
moral and religious truths are thought little of by 
them, because they fall under the province of 
Conscience far more than of the intellect. Religion 
sinks in their estimation almost altogether; they 
begin to think all religions alike ; and no wonder, 
for they are like men who have lost the faculty of 
discerning colours, and who never, by any exercise 


of reason, can make out the difference between 
white and black. The code of morals they acknow- 
ledge in a measure, that is, so far as its dicta can 
be proved by reasoning, by an appeal to sight, and 
to expedience, and without reference to a natural 
sense of right and wrong as the sanction of them. 
Thinking much of intellectual advancement, they 
are much bent on improving the world by making 
aU men intellectual; and they labour to convince 
themselves, that as men grow in knowledge they 
will OTow in virtue. 


As they proceed in their course of judicial 
blindness, from undervaluing they learn to despise 
or to hate the authority of Conscience. They 
treat it as a weakness, to which all men indeed 
are subject, — they themselves in the number, — 
especially in seasons of sickness, but of which 
they have cause to be ashamed. The notions of 
better men about an over-ruling Providence, and 
the Divine will, designs, appointments, works, 
judgments, they treat with scorn, as irrational ; 
especially if (as will often be the case) these 
notions are conveyed in incorrect language, with 
some accidental confusion or intellectual weakness 
of expression. 

And all these inducements to live by sight 
and not by faith are greatly increased, when men 
are engaged in any pursuit which properly belongs 
to the intellect. Hence sciences conversant with 
experiments on the material creation, tend to 

s 2 


make men forget the existence of spirit and the 
Lord of spirits. 

I will not pursue the course of infidelity into its 
worst and grossest forms, but it may be instructive 
before I conclude, to take the case of such a man 
as I have been describing, when under the influence 
of some relentings of conscience towards the close 
of his life. 

This is a case of no unfrequent occurrence ; 
that is, it must frequently happen that the most 
hardened conscience is at times visited bv sudden 
compunctions, though generally they are but 
momentary. But it sometimes happens, further 
than this, that a man, from one cause or other, 
feels he is not in a safe state, and struggles with 
himself, and the struggle terminates in a manner 
which affords a fresh illustration of the working 
of that wisdom of the world, which in God's sight 
is foolishness. 

How shall a sinner, who has formed his cha- 
racter upon unbelief, trusting sight and reason 
rather than Conscience and Scripture, how shall 
he begin to repent ? What must he do ? Is it 
possible he can overcome himself, and new make 
his heart in the end of his days? It is possible, 
— not with man, but with God, who gives grace 
to all who ask for it ; but in only one way, in 
the way of His commandments, by a slow, tedious, 
toilsome, self-discipline; slow, tedious, and toil- 
some, that is, to one who has been long hardening 


himself in a dislike of it, and indulging himself in 
the rapid flights and easy victories of his reason. 
There is but one way to heaven ; the narrow 
way ; and he who sets about to seek God, though 
in old age, must begin at the same door as others. 
He must retrace his way, and begin again with 
the very beginning as if he were a boy. And so 
proceeding, — labouring, watching, and praying, — 
he seems likely, after all, to make but little pro- 
gress during the brief remnant of his life ; both 
because the time left to him is short, and because 
he has to undo while he does a work ; — he has to 
overcome that resistance from his old stout will 
and hardened heart, which in youth he did not 

Now it is plain how humbling this is to his 
pride : he wishes to be saved ; but he cannot stoop 
to be a penitent all his days : to beg he is ashamed. 
Therefore he looks about for other means of 
finding a safe hope. And one way among others 
by which he deceives himself, is the idea that 
he may gain religious knowledge merely by his 

Thus it happens, that men who have led profli- 
gate lives in their youth, or who have passed their 
days in the pursuit of wealth, or in some other 
excitement of the world, not unfrequently settle 
•down into heresies in their latter years. Before, 
perhaps, they professed nothing, and suffered 
themselves to be called Christians and members 


of the Church; but at length, roused to inquire 
after truth, and forgetting that the pure in heart 
alone can see God, and therefore that they must 
begin by a moral reformation, by self-denial, they 
inquire merely by the way of reasoning. No 
wonder they err ; they cannot understand any part 
of the Church's system whether of doctrine or 
discipline; yet they think themselves judges; and 
they treat the most sacred ordinances and the most 
solemn doctrines, with scorn and irreverence. Thus 
*' the last state of such men is worse than the first." 
In the words of the text, they ought to have be- 
come fools, that they might have been in the end 
really wise ; but they prefer another way, and are 
taken in their own craftiness. 

May we ever bear in mind, that the " fear of 
the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ' ;" that obe- 
dience to our conscience, in all things, great and 
small, is the way to know the Truth ; that pride 
hardens the heart, and sensuality debases it; and 
that all those who live in pride and sensual in- 
dulgence, can no more comprehend the ways of 
the Holy Spirit, or know the voice of Christ, than 
the devils who believe with a dead faith and 
tremble ! 

" Blessed are they that do His commandments, 
that they may have right to the tree of life, and 
may enter in through the gates into the city" . . . 

' Prov. i. 7. 


where there is " no need of the sun, neither of the 
moon to shine in it; for the glory of God doth 
lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof ^" 

^ Rev. xxi. 23. xxii. 14. 



Psalm xxxvii. 34. 

" Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee 
to inherit the land." 

The Psalm from which I have taken my text, is 
written with a view of encouraging good men 
who are in perplexity, — and especially perplexity 
concerning God's designs, providence, and will. 
" Fret not thyself;" this is the lesson it inculcates 
from first to last. This world is in a state of con- 
fusion. Unworthy men prosper, and are looked on 
as the greatest men of the time. Truth and 
goodness are thrown into the shade; but wait 
patiently, — peace, be still ; in the end, the better 
side shall triumph, — the meek shall inherit the 

Doubtless the Church is in great darkness and 
perplexity under the Christian dispensation, as well 
as under the Jewish. Not that Christianity does 


not explain to us the most important religious 
question, — which it does to our great comfort ; 
but that, from the nature of the case, imperfect 
beings, as we are, nmst always be, on the whole, 
in a state of darkness. Nay, the very doctrines of 
the New Testament themselves bring with them 
their own peculiar difficulties ; and, till we learn 
to quiet our minds, and to school them into sub- 
mission to God, we shall probably find more 
perplexity than information even in what St. Paul 
calls " the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ'." 
Revelation was not given us to satisfy doubts, 
but to make us better men ; and it is as we become 
better men, that it becomes light and peace to 
our souls ; though even to the end of our lives we 
shall find difficulties both in it and in the world 
around us. 

I will make some remarks to-day on the case of 
those who, though they are in the whole honest 
inquirers in religion, yet are more or less in per- 
plexity and anxiety, and so are discouraged. 

The use of difficulties to all of us in our trial 
in this world is obvious. Our faith is variously 
assailed by doubts and difficulties, in order to 
prove its sincerity. If we really love God and 
His Son, wo shall go on in spite of opposition, 
even though, as in the case of the Canaanitish 
woman, He seem to repel us. If we are not in 

' 2 Cor. iv. 4. 


earnest, difficulty makes us turn back. This is 
one of the ways in which God separates the corn 
from the chaff, gradually gathering each, as time 
goes on, into its own heap, till the end comes, 
when " He will gather the wheat into His garner, 
but the chaff He will burn with fire unquench- 
able ^" 

Now, I am aware that to some persons it may 
sound strange to speak of difficulties in religion, 
for they find none at all. But though it is true, 
that the earlier we begin to seek God in earnest, 
the less of difficulty and perplexity we are likely 
to endure, yet this ignorance of religious difficul- 
ties in a great many cases, I fear, arises from 
ignorance of religion itself When our hearts are 
not in our work, and we are but carried on 
with the stream of the world, continuing in the 
Church because we find ourselves there, observing 
religious ordinances merely because we are used 
to them, and professing to be Christians because 
others do, it is not to be expected that we 
should know what it is to feel ourselves wrong, 
and unable to get right, — to feel doubt, anxiety, 
disappointment, discontent ; whereas, when our 
minds are awakened, and we see that there is a 
right way and a wrong way, and that we have 
much to learn, when we try to gain religious 
knowledge from Scripture, and to apply it to our- 

' Luke iii. 17. 


selves, then from time to time we are troubled with 
doubts and misgivings, and are oppressed with 

To all those who are perplexed in any way 
soever, who wish for light but cannot find it, one 
precept must be given, — obe^. It is obedience 
which brings a man into the right path ; it is 
obedience keeps him there and strengthens him 
in it. Under all circumstances, whatever be the 
cause of his distress, — obey. In the words of the 
text, " Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and 
He shall exalt thee." 

Let us apply this exhortation to the case of 
those who have but lately taken up the subject 
of religion at all. Every science has its difficulties 
at first; why then should the science of living 
well be without them ? When the subject of reli- 
gion is new to us, it is strange. We have heard 
truths all our lives without feeling them duly ; at 
length, when they aflect us, we cannot believe 
them to be the same we have long known. We 
are thrown out of our fixed notions of things ; an 
embarrassment ensues; a general painful uncer- 
tainty. We say, " Is the Bible true ? Is it 
possible ?" and are distressed by evil doubts, 
which we can hardly explain to ourselves, much 
less to others. No one can help us. And the 
relative imj)ortance of present objects is so altered 
from what it was, that we can scarcely form any 
judgment upon them, or when we attempt it, we 


form a wrong judgment. Our eyes do not accom- 
modate themselves to the various distances of the 
objects before us, and are dazzled ; or like the blind 
man restored to sight, we " see men as trees, walk- 
ing'." Moreover, our judgment of persons, as well 
as of things, is changed ; and, if not every where 
changed, yet at first every where suspected by our- 
selves. And this general distrust of ourselves is 
the greater the longer we have been already living 
in inattention to sacred subjects, and the more we 
now are humbled and ashamed of ourselves. And 
it leads us to take up with the first religious guide 
who offers himself to us, whatever be his real fitness 
for the office. 

To these agitations of mind about what is truth 
and what is error, is added an anxiety about our- 
selves, which, however sincere, is apt to lead us 
wrong. We do not feel, think, and act as religi- 
ously as we could wish ; and while we are sorry 
for it, we are also (perhaps) somewhat surprised 
at it, and impatient at it, — which is natural but 
unreasonable. Instead of reflecting that we are 
just setting about our recovery from a most serious 
disease of long standing, we conceive we ought to 
be able to trace the course of our recovery by a 
sensible improvement. This same impatience is 
seen in persons who are recovering from bodily 
indisposition. They gain strength slowly, and 

' Mark viii. 24. 


are better perhaps for some days, and then worse 
again ; and a slight relapse dispirits them. In 
the same way, when we begin to seek God in 
earnest, we are apt, not only to be humbled, 
(which we ought to be,) but to be discouraged at 
the slowness with which we are able to amend, in 
spite of all the assistances of God's grace. For- 
getting that our proper title at very best is that 
of penitent sinners, we seek to rise all at once into 
the blessedness of the sons of God. This impa- 
tience leads us to misuse the purpose of self-ex- 
amination ; which is principally intended to inform 
us of our sins, whereas we are disappointed if it 
does not at once tell us of our improvement. 
Doubtless, in a length of time we shall be con- 
scious of improvement too, but the object of 
ordinary self-examination is to find out whether 
we are in earnest, and again, what we have done 
wrong, in order that we may pray for pardon, and 
do better. Further, reading in Scripture how ex- 
alted the thoughts and spirit of Christians should 
be, we are apt to forget that a Christian spirit 
is the growth of time ; and that we cannot force it 
upon our minds, however desirable and necessary 
it may be to possess it ; that by giving utterance 
to religious sentiments we do not become religious, 
rather the reverse ; whereas, if we strove to obey 
God's will in all things, we actually should be 
gradually training our hearts into the fulness of 
a Christian spirit. But not understanding this, 


men are led to speak much and expressly upon 
sacred subjects, as if it were a duty to do so, and 
in the hope of its making them better; and they 
measure their advance in faith and holiness, not 
by their power of obeying God in practice, mas- 
tering their will, and becoming more exact in their 
daily duties, but by the warmth and energy of their 
religious feelings. And, when they cannot sustain 
these to that height which they consider almost 
the characteristic of a true Christian, then they 
are discouraged, and tempted to despair. Added 
to this, sometimes their old sins, reviving from the 
slumber into which they have been cast for a time, 
rush over their minds, and seem prepared to take 
them captive. They cry to God for aid, but He 
seems not to hear them, and they know not which 
way to look for safety. 

Now such persons must be reminded first of 
all, of the greatness of the work which they have 
undertaken, viz. the sanctification of their souls. 
Those, indeed, who think this an easy task or 
(which comes to the same thing) who think that 
though hard in itself, it will be easy to them, for 
God's grace will take all the toil of it from them, 
such men of course must be disappointed on find- 
ing by experience the force of their original evil 
nature, and the extreme slowness with which even 
a Christian is able to improve it. And it is to 
be feared that this disappointment in some cases 
issues in a belief, that it is impossible to overcome 


our evil selves ; that bad we are, bad we must be ; 
that our innate corruption lies like a load in our 
hearts, and no more admits of improvement than a 
stone does of light and thought ; and, in consequence, 
that all we have to do, is to believe in Christ 
who is to save us, and to dwell on the thoughts of 
His perfect work for us, — that this is all we can do, 
— and that it is presumption as well as folly to 
attempt more. 

But what says the text? "Wait on the Lord 
and keep his way." And Isaiah? "They that 
wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings like eagles ; they 
shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk 
and not faint ^" And St. Paul? "I can do all 
things through Christ which strengtheneth me ^." 
The very fruit of Christ's passion was the gift of 
the Holy Spirit, which was to enable us to do 
what otherwise we could not do — " to work out our 
own salvation ^." — Yet, while we must aim at this, 
and feel convinced of our ability to do it at length 
through the gifts bestowed on us, we cannot do 
it rightly without a deep settled conviction of the 
exceeding difficulty of the work. That is, not 
only shall we be tempted to negligence, but to 
impatience also, and thence into all kinds of un- 
lawful treatments of the soul, if we be possessed 
by a notion that religious discipline soon becomes 

' Is. xl. 31. ^ Phil. iv. 13. => Phil. ii. 12. 


easy to the believer, and that the heart is speedily 
changed. Christ's " yoke is easy ': " true, to those 
who are accustomed to it, not to the unbroken 
neck. " Wisdom is very unpleasant to the un- 
learned, (says the son of Sirach,) he that is without 
understanding will not remain with her." " At the 
first she will walk with him by crooked ways, and 
bring fear and dread upon him, and torment him 
with her discipline, until she may trust his soul 
and try him by her laws. Then will she return 
the straight way unto him, and comfort him, and 
show him her secrets ^" 

Let, then, every beginner make up his mind 
to suffer disquiet and perplexity. He cannot com- 
plain that it should be so ; and though he should 
be deeply ashamed of himself that it is so, (for 
had he followed God from a child, his condition 
would have been far different, though, then, 
perhaps, not without some perplexities,) still he 
has no cause to be surprised or discouraged. The 
more he makes up his mind manfully to bear 
doubt, struggle against it, and meekly to do God's 
will all through it, the sooner this unsettled state 
of mind will cease, and order will rise out of con- 
fusion. " Wait on the Lord," this is the rule ; 
*' keep His way," this is the manner of waiting. 
Go about your duty ; mind little things as well 
as great. Do not pause, and say, "I am as I 

' Matt. xi.30. ^ Ecclus. vi. 20. iv. 17, 18. 


was; day after day passes, and still no light;" go 
on. It is very painful to be haunted by wander- 
ing doubts, to have thoughts shoot across the 
mind about the reality of religion altogether, or of 
this or that particular doctrine of it, or about the 
correctness of one's own faith, and the safety of 
one's own state. But it must be right to serve 
God ; we have a voice within us answering to the 
injunction in the text of waiting on Him, and 
keeping His way. David confesses it. " When 
Thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said 
unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek \" — 
And surely such obedient waiting upon Him will 
obtain His blessing. " Blessed are they that keep 
His commandments." And besides this express 
promise, even if we had to seek for a way to 
understand His perfect will, could we conceive 
one of greater promise than that of beginning 
with little things, and so gradually making pro- 
gress ? In all other things is not this the way to 
perfection ? Does not a child learn to walk short 
distances at first? Who would attempt to bear 
great weights before he had succeeded with the 
lesser? It is from God's great goodness that our 
daily constant duty is placed in the performance 
of small and comparatively easy services. To 
be dutiful and obedient in ordinary matters, to 
speak the truth, to be honest, to be sober, to 

1 Psalm xxvii. 8. 
VOL. I. T 


keep from sinful words and thoughts, to be kind 
and forgiving, — and all this for our Saviour's sake, 
— let us attempt these duties first. They even will 
be difficult, — the least of them ; still they are much 
easier than the solution of the doubts which harass 
us, and they will by degrees give us a practical 
knowledge of the Truth. 

To take one instance, out of many which might 
be given : suppose we have any perplexing, inde- 
scribable doubts about the Divine power of our 
Blessed Lord, or concerning the doctrine of the 
Trinity; well, let us leave the subject, and turn 
to do God's will. If we do this in faith and 
humility, we shall in time find that, while we 
have been obeying our Saviour's precepts, and 
imitating His conduct in the Gospels, our diffi- 
culties have been removed, though it may take 
time to remove them ; and though we are not, 
during the time, sensible of what is going on. 
There may, indeed, be cases in which they are 
never removed entirely, — and in which doubtless 
some great and good object is secured by the 
trial ; but we may fairly and safely look out for a 
more comfortable issue. And so as regards all 
our difficulties. " Wait on the Lord, and keep His 
way." His word is sure ; we may safely trust it. 
We shall gain light as to general doctrines by em- 
bodying them in those particular instances in which 
they become ordinary duties. 

But it too often happens, that from one cause or 


other men do not pursue this simple method of 
gradually extricating themselves from error. — They 
seek some new path which promises to be shorter 
and easier than the lowly and the circuitous way 
of obedience. They wish to arrive at the heights 
of Mount Zion without winding round its base ; 
and at first (it must be confessed) they seem to 
make greater progress than those who are content 
to wait, and work righteousness. Impatient of 
" sitting in darkness, and having no light," and of 
completing the Prophet's picture of a saint in trou- 
ble, "by fearing the Lord, and obeying the voice 
of His servant V they expect to gain speedy peace 
and holiness by means of new teachers, and by a 
new doctrine. 

Many are misled by confidence in themselves. 
They look back at the first seasons of their re- 
pentance and conversion, as if the time of their 
greatest knowledge ; and instead of considering 
that their earliest religious notions were probably 
the most confused and mixed with error, and 
therefore endeavouring to separate the good from 
the bad, they consecrate all they then felt as a 
standard of doctrine to which they are bound to 
appeal; and as to the opinions of others, they 
think Httle of it, for religion being a new subject 
to themselves, they are easily led to think it 
must be a new and untried subject to others also, 

' Isaiah i. 10. 



especially, since the best men are often the least 
willing to converse, except in private, on religious 
subjects, and still more averse to speak of them 
to those who they think will not value them 

But, leaving the mention of those who err from 
self-confidence, I would rather lament over such 
as are led away from the path of plain simple 
obedience by a compliance with the views and 
wishes of those around them. Such persons there 
are all through the Church, and ever have been. 
Such perhaps have been many Christians in the 
communion of the Church of Rome; who, feeling 
deeply the necessity of a religious life, yet strive 
by means different from those which God has 
blessed, to gain His favour. They begin religion 
at the very end of it, and make those observances 
and rules the chief means of pleasing Him, which 
in fact should be but the spontaneous acts of the 
formed Christian temper. And others among our- 
selves are bound by a similar yoke of bondage, 
though it be more speciously disguised, when they 
subject their minds to certain unscriptural rules, 
and fancy they must separate in some self-devised 
way from the world, and that they must speak and 
act according to some arbitrary and novel form of 
doctrine, which they try to set before themselves, 
instead of endeavouring to imbue their hearts 
with that free, unconstrained spirit of devotion, 
which lowly obedience in ordinary matters would 


imperceptibly form within them. How many are 
there, more or less such, who love the Truth, and 
would fain do God's will, who yet are led aside 
and walk in bondage, while they are promised 
superior light and freedom ! They desire to be 
living members of the Church, and they anxiously 
seek out whatever they can admire in the true sons 
of the Church ; but they feel forced to measure 
every thing by a certain superstitious standard 
which they revere, — they are frightened at shadows, 
— and thus they are, from time to time, embar- 
rassed and perplexed, whenever, that is, they cannot 
reconcile the conduct and lives of those who are 
really, and whom they wish to believe eminent 
Christians, with that false religious system which 
they have adopted. 

Before concluding, I must notice one other 
state of mind in which the precept of "waiting 
on God and keeping his way," will avail, above 
all others, to lead right a doubting and perplexed 

Tt sometimes happens, from ill health or other 
cause, that persons fall into religious despond- 
ency. They fancy that they have so abused 
God's mercy that there is no hope for them ; 
that once they knew the Truth, but that now it 
is withdrawn from them ; that they have had 
warnings which they have neglected, and now 
they are left by the Holy Spirit, and given over 
to Satan. Then, they recollect divers passages of 


Scripture, which speak of the peril of falling 
away, and they apply these to their own case. 
Now I speak of such instances, only so far as 
they can be called ailments of the mind, — for 
often they must be treated as ailments of the 
body. As far as they are mental, let us observe 
how it will conduce to restore the quiet of the 
mind, to attend to the humble ordinary duties of 
our station, that walking in God's way, of which 
the text speaks. Sometimes, indeed, persons 
thus afflicted increase their disorder by attempt- 
ing to console themselves by those elevated 
Christian doctrines which St. Paul enlarges on ; 
and others encourage them in it. But St. Paul's 
doctrine is not intended for weak and unstable 
minds'. He says himself: "We speak wisdom 
among them that are perfect;'' not to those who 
are (what he calls) " babes in Christ ^" In pro- 
portion as we gain strength, we shall be able to 
understand and profit by the full promises of the 
Christian covenant ; but those who are confused, 
agitated, restless in their minds, who busy them- 
selves with many thoughts, and are overwhelmed 
with conflicting feelings, such persons are, in 
general, made more restless and more unhappy, 
(as the experience of sick beds may show us,) by 
holding out to them doctrines and assurances 
which they cannot rightly apprehend. Now, not 

' 2 Pet. iii. 16. M Cor. ii. 6; iii. 1. 


to speak of that peculiar blessing which is pro- 
mised to obedience to God's will, let us observe 
how well it is calculated, by its natural effect, to 
soothe and calm the mind. When we set about 
to obey God, in the ordinary businesses of daily 
life, we are at once interested by realities which 
withdraw our minds from vague fears and uncer- 
tain indefinite surmises about the future. With- 
out laying aside the thoughts of Christ, (the con- 
trary,) still we learn to view Him in His tranquil 
providence, before we set about contemplating 
His greater works, and we are saved from taking 
an unchristian thought for the morrow, while we 
are busied in present services. Thus our Saviour 
gradually discloses Himself to the troubled mind ; 
not as He is in heaven, as when He struck down 
Saul to the ground, but as He was in the days of 
His flesh, eating and conversing among His bre- 
thren, and bidding us, in imitation of Him, think 
no duty beneath the notice of those who sincerely 
wish to please God. 

Such afilicted inquirers, then, after truth, must 
be exhorted to keep a guard upon their feelings, 
and to control their hearts. They say they are 
terrified lest they should be past hope ; and they 
will not be persuaded that God is all-merciful, 
in spite of all the Scriptures say to that eff^ect. 
Well, then, I would take them on their own 
ground. Supposing their state to be as wretched 
as is conceivable, can they deny it is their duty 


now to serve God? Can they do better than try 
to serve Him? Job said, "Though He slay me, 
yet will I trust in Him ^" They say they do not 
wish to serve God, — that they want a heart to 
serve Him. Let us grant, (if they will have it 
so,) that they are most obdurate; still they are 
alive, — they must be doing something, and can 
they do aught better than try to quiet themselves, 
and be resigned, and to do right rather than 
wrong, even though they are persuaded that it 
does not come from their heart, and is not accept- 
able to God? They say they dare not ask for 
God's grace to assist them. This is doubtless a 
miserable state : still, since they must act in some 
way, though they cannot do what is really good 
without His grace, yet, at least, let them do what 
seems like truth and goodness. Nay, though 
it is shocking to set before their minds such a 
prospect, yet even were they already in the place 
of punishment, will they not confess, it would be 
the best thing they could do, to commit then as 
little sin as possible? Much more then now, 
when even if they have no hope, their heart at 
least is not so entirely hardened as it will be 

It must not be for an instant supposed I am 
admitting the possibility of a person being re- 
jected by God, who has any such right feelings 

* Job xiii. 15. 


in his mind. The anxiety of the sufferers I have 
been describing, shows they are still under the 
influence of Divine grace, though they will not 
allow it ; but I say this, to give another instance 
in which a determination to obey God's will 
strictly in ordinary matters tends, through His 
blessing, to calm and comfort the mind, and to 
bring it out of perplexity into the clear day. 

And so in various other cases which might be 
recounted. Whatever our difficulty be, this is 
plain. "Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, 
and He shall exalt thee." Or in our Saviour's 
words : " He that hath My commandments and 
keepeth them, he it is that loveth me ; and he 
that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father, and 
I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him." 
"Whosoever shall do and teach these least com- 
mandments, shall be called great in the kingdom 
of heaven." " Whosoever hath, to him shall be 
given, and he shall have more abundance \" 

* John xiv. 21. Matt. v. 19 ; xiii. 12. 



Matthew vi. 6. 

" Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when 
thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in 
secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward 
thee openly." 

Here is our Saviour's own sanction and blessing 
vouchsafed to private prayer, in simple, clear, and 
most gracious words. The Pharisees were in the 
practice, when they prayed by themselves, of 
praying in public, in the corners of the streets ; a 
strange inconsistency according to our notions, 
since in our language prayer by oneself is ever 
called private prayer. Public private prayer, this 
was their self-contradictory practice. Warning, 
then, His disciples against the particular form of 
hypocrisy in which the self-conceit of human 
nature at that day showed itself, our Lord pro- 
mises in the text His Father's blessing on such 
humble supplications as were really addressed to 
Him, and not made to gain the praise of men. 


Those who seek the unseen God, (He seems to 
say,) seek Him in their hearts and hidden thoughts, 
not in loud words, as if He were far off from 
them. Such men would retire from the world 
into places where no human eye saw them, there 
to meet Him humbly and in faith, who is " about 
their path, and about their bed, and spieth out all 
their ways." And He, the searcher of hearts, 
would reward them openly. Prayers uttered in 
secret, according to God's will, are treasured up 
in God's Book of Life. They seem, perhaps, to 
have sought an answer here, and to have failed. 
Their memory perishes even in the mind of 
the petitioner, and the world never knew of 
them. But God is ever mindful, and in the 
last day, when the books are opened, they shall 
be disclosed and rewarded before the whole 

Such is Christ's gracious promise in the text, 
acknowledging and blessing, in His condescension, 
those devotional exercises which were a duty even 
before Scripture enjoined them; and changing 
into a privilege that work of faith, which, though 
bidden by conscience, and authorized by reason, 
yet before He revealed His mercy, is laden, in 
every man's case who attempts it, with guilt, re- 
morse, and fear. It is the Christian's unspeakable 
privilege, and his alone, that he has at all times 
free access to the throne of grace through the 
mediation of his Lord and Saviour. 


But, in what I shall now say concerning prayer, 
I shall not consider it as a privilege, but as a duty ; 
for till we have some experience of the duties of 
religion, we are incapable of entering duly into the 
privileges; and it is too much the fashion of the 
day to view prayer chiefly as a mere privilege, such 
a privilege as it is inconsiderate indeed to neglect, 
but only inconsiderate, not sinful ; and optional to 

Now, we know well enough that we are bound 
to be in one sense in prayer and meditation all 
the day long. The question then arises, are 
we to pray in any other way ? Is it enough to 
keep our minds fixed upon God through the day, 
and to commune with Him in our hearts, or is it 
necessary, over and above this habitual faith, to 
set apart particular times for the more systematic 
and earnest exercise of it ? Need we pray at cer- 
tain times of the day in a set manner? Public 
worship, indeed, from its very nature, requires 
places, times, and even set forms. But private 
prayer does not necessarily require set times, be- 
cause we have no one to consult but ourselves, 
and we are always with ourselves ; nor forms, for 
there is no one else whose thoughts are to keep 
pace with ours. Still, though set times and forms 
of prayer are not absolutely necessary in private 
prayer, yet they are highly expedient; or rather, 
times are actually commanded us by our Lord 
in the text, " Thou, when thou pray est, enter into 


thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, 
pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy 
Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee 

In these words certain times for private prayer, 
over and above the secret thought of God which 
must ever be alive in us, are clearly enjoined ; and 
the practice of good men in Scripture gives us an 
example in confirmation of the command. Even 
our Saviour had His peculiar seasons of commun- 
ing with God. His thoughts indeed were one 
continued sacred service offered up to His Father ; 
nevertheless, we read of His going up "into a 
mountain apart to pray," and again, of His " con- 
tinuing all night in prayer to God^" Doubtless, 
you well recollect that solitary prayer of His, be- 
fore His passion, thrice repeated, "that the cup 
might pass from Him." St. Peter too, as in the 
narrative of the conversion of Cornelius, the 
Roman centurion, in the tenth chapter of the 
Acts, went up upon the house-top to pray about 
the sixth hour; then God visited him. And 
Nathanael seems to have been in prayer under 
the fig-tree, at the time our Saviour saw him, and 
Philip called him^ I might multiply instances 
from Scripture of such Israelites without guile; 
which are of course applicable to us, because, 

* Matt. xiv. 23. Luke vi. 12. * John i. 48. 


though they were under a Divine government 
in many respects different from the Christian, yet 
personal religion is the same at all times ; " the 
just" in every dispensation "shall live by faith," 
and whatever reasons there were then for faith to 
display and maintain itself by stated prayer, remain 
substantially the same now. Let two passages 
suffice. The Psalmist says, " Seven times a day do 
I praise Thee, because of Thy righteous judg- 
ments \" And Daniel's practice is told us on a 
memorable occasion : " Now when Daniel knew 
that the writing was signed, (the impious decree, 
forbidding prayer to any but king Darius for thirty 
days,) he went into his house, and his windows 
being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he 
kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and 
prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did 
aforetime ^" 

It is plain, then, besides the devotional temper 
in which we should pass the day, more solemn and 
direct acts of worship, nay, regular and periodical, 
are required of us by the precept of Christ, and His 
own example, and that of His Apostles and Pro- 
phets under both covenants. 

Now it is necessary to insist upon this duty of 
observing private prayer at stated times, because 
amid the cares and hurry of life men are very apt 

' Psalm cxix. 164. * Dan. vi. 10. 


to neglect it : and it is a much more important duty 
than it is generally considered, even by those who 
perform it. 

It is important for the two reasons which 

1. It brings religious subjects before the mind 
in regular course. Prayer through the day, is 
indeed the characteristic of a Christian spirit, but 
we may be sure that, in most cases, those who do 
not pray at stated times in a more solemn and 
direct manner, will never pray well at other times. 
We know in the common engagements of life, 
the importance of collecting and arranging our 
thoughts calmly and accurately before proceeding 
to any important business, in order to the right 
performance of it ; and so in that one really need- 
ful occupation, the care of our eternal interests, 
if we would have our minds composed, our de- 
sires subdued, and our tempers heavenly through 
the day, we must, before commencing the day's 
employment, stand still awhile to look into our- 
selves, and commune with our hearts, by way of 
preparing ourselves for the trials and duties on 
which we are entering. A like reason may be 
assigned for evening prayer, viz. as affording us a 
time of looking back on the day past, and sum- 
ming up (as it were) that account, which, if we do 
not reckon, at least God has reckoned, and written 
down in that book which will be produced at the 
judgment; a time of confessing sin, and of pray^ 


ing for forgiveness, of giving thanks for what we 
have done well, and for mercies received, of 
making good resolutions in reliance on the help 
of God, and of sealing up and setting sure the 
day past, at least as a stepping-stone of good for 
the morrow. The precise times indeed of private 
prayer are no where commanded us in Scripture ; 
the most obvious are those I have mentioned, 
morning and evening. In the texts just now 
read to you, you heard of praying three times a 
day, or seven times. All this depends of course on 
the opportunities of each individual. Some men 
have not leisure for this; but for morning and 
evening prayer all men can and should make 

Stated times of private prayer, then, are useful 
as impulses (so to say) to the continuous devotion 
of the day. They instruct us and engage us in 
what is ever our duty. It is commonly said, that 
what is every one's business is practically no 
one's ; this applies here. I repeat it, if we leave 
religion as a subject of thought for all hours of 
the day equally, it will be thought of in none. 
In all things it is by small beginnings and ap- 
pointed channels, that an advance is made to 
extensive works. Stated times of prayer put us 
in that posture (as I may call it) in which we 
ought ever to be ; they urge us forward in a hea- 
venly direction, and then the stream carries us 
on. For the same reason it is expedient, if pos- 


sible, to be solemn in the forms of our private 
worship, in order to impress our minds. Our 
Saviour kneeled down, fell on His face, and 
prayed \ — so did His Apostles ^ ; and so did the 
Saints of the Old Testament. Hence many per- 
sons are accustomed (such as have the opportunity) 
to set apart a particular place for their private 
devotions; still for the same reason, to compose 
their mind, — as Christ tells us in the text, to enter 
into our closet. 

•2. I now come to the second reason for stated 
private prayer. Besides its tending to produce 
in us lasting religious impressions, which I have 
already enlarged upon, it is also a more direct 
means of gaining from God an answer to our 
requests. He has so sanctioned it in the text : — 
"Shut thy door, and pray to thy Father, which 
seeth in secret, and He shall reward thee openly.'* 
We do not know how it is that prayer receives an 
answer from God at all. It is strange, indeed, 
that weak man should have strength to move 
God ; but it is our privilege to know that we can 
do so. The whole system of this world is a his- 
tory of man's interfering with Divine decrees ; 
and if we have the melancholy power of baffling 
His good-will, to our own ruin, (an awftil, an 
incomprehensible truth !) if, when He designs our 

' Matt. XX vi. 39. Luke xxii. 41. 
* Acts XX. 36 ; xxi. 5. Eph. iii. 14. 
VOL. I. U 


eternal salvation, we can yet annul our heavenly 
election, and accomplish our eternal destruction, 
much more have we the power to move Him 
(blessed be His name !) when He, the Searcher of 
hearts, discerns in us the mind of that Holy 
Spirit, which " maketh intercession for the saints 
according to His will." And, as He has thus pro- 
mised an answer to our poor prayers, so it is not 
more strange that prayers offered up at particular 
times, and in a particular way, should have espe- 
cially prevailing power with Him. And the reason 
of it may be as follows. It is faith that is the 
appointed means of gaining all blessings from God. 
"All things are possible to him that believeth'." 
Now, at stated times, when we gather up our 
thoughts to pray, and draw out our petitions in an 
orderly and clear manner, the act of faith is likely 
to be stronger and more earnest ; then we realize 
more perfectly the presence of that God whom 
we do not see, and Him on whom once all our 
gins were laid, who bore the weight of our infir- 
mities and sicknesses once for all, that in all our 
troubles we might seek Him, and find grace in 
time of need. Then this world is more out of 
sight, and we more simply appropriate those bless- 
ings, which we have but to claim humbly and they 
are really ours. 

Stated times of prayer, then, are necessary, 

' Mark ix. 23. 


first, as a means of making the mind sober, and 
the general temper more religious ; secondly, as a 
means of exercising earnest faith, and therefore of 
receiving a more certain blessing in answer, than 
we should otherwise obtain. 

Other reasons, doubtless, may be given; but 
these are enough, not only as containing subject 
for thought which may be useful to us, but be- 
sides, as serving to show how wise and merciful 
those Divine provisions really are, which our 
vain minds are so apt to question. All God's 
commands, indeed, ought to be received at 
once upon faith, though we saw no reason for 
them. It is no excuse for a man's disobeying 
them, even if he thinks he sees reasons against 
them ; for God knows better than we do. But in 
great condescension He has allowed us to see 
here and there His reasons for what He does 
and enjoins ; and we should treasure up these 
occasional notices as memorials against the time 
of temptation, that when doubt and unbelief assail 
us, and we are perplexed at His revealed word, 
we may call to mind those former instances in 
our own experience, where what at first seemed 
strange and hard, on closer consideration was 
found to have a wise end. Now the duty of 
observing stated times of private prayer is one of 
those concerning which we are apt to entertain 
the unbelieving thoughts I have been describing. 

It seems to us to be a form, or at least a light 


matter, to observe or omit ; whereas in truth, such 
creatures are we, there is the most close and 
remarkable connexion between small observances 
and the permanence of our chief habits and prac- 
tices. It is easy to see why it is irksome; be- 
cause it presses upon us and is inconvenient. It 
is a duty which claims our attention continually, 
and its irksomeness leads our hearts to rebel ; and 
then we proceed to search for reasons to justify 
our own dislike of it. Nothing is more difficult 
than to be disciplined and regular in our religion. 
It is very easy to be religious by fits and starts, 
and to keep up our feelings by artificial stimu- 
lants ; but regularity seems to trammel us, and 
we become impatient. This is especially the case 
with those to whom the world is as yet new, 
and who can do as they please. Religion is the 
chief subject which meets them, which enjoins 
regularity; and they bear it only so far as they 
can make it look like things of this world, curious, 
or changeable, or exciting. Satan knows his ad- 
vantage here. He perceives well enough that 
stated private prayer is the very emblem and 
safeguard of true devotion to God, as impress- 
ing on us and keeping up in us a rule of con- 
duct. He who gives up regularity in prayer has 
lost a principal means of reminding himself that 
spiritual life is obedience to a Lawgiver, not a 
mere feeling or a taste. Hence it is that so many 
persons, especially in the polished ranks of society. 


who are out of the way of temptation to gross 
vice, fall away into a mere luxurious self-in- 
dulgent devotion, which they take for religion ; 
they reject every thing which implies self-denial, 
and regular prayer especially. Hence it is that 
others run into all kinds of enthusiastic fancies; 
because, by giving up set private prayer in writ- 
ten forms, they have lost the chief rule of their 
hearts. Accordingly, you will hear them exclaim 
against regular prayer, (which is the very medi- 
cine suited to their disease,) as a formal service, 
and maintain that times and places and fixed 
words are beneath the attention of a spiritual 
Christian. And others, who are exposed to the 
seductions of sin, altogether fall away from the 
same omission. Be sure, my brethren, whoever 
of you is persuaded to disuse his morning and 
evening prayers, is giving up the armour which 
is to secure him against the wiles of the Devil. 
If you have left off the observance of them, you 
may fall any day; — and you will fall without 
notice. For a time you will go on, seeming to 
yourselves to be the same as before ; but the 
Israelites might as well hope to lay in a stock of 
manna as you of grace. You pray God for your 
daily bread, your bread day by day ; and if you 
have not prayed for it this morning, it will profit 
you little that you prayed for it yesterday. You 
did then pray and you obtained, — but not a sup- 
ply for two days. When you have given over 


the practice of stated prayer, you gradually be- 
come weaker without knowing it. Samson did 
not know he had lost his strength till the Philis- 
tines came upon him ; you will think yourselves 
the men you used to be, till suddenly your adver- 
sary will come furiously upon you, and you will 
as suddenly fall. You will be able to make little 
or no resistance. This is the path which leads 
to death. Men first leave off private prayer ; 
then they neglect the due observance of the 
Lord's day (which is a stated service of the same 
kind) ; then they gradually let slip from their 
minds the very idea of obedience to a fixed eter- 
nal law; then they actually allow themselves in 
things which their conscience condemns ; then 
they lose the direction of their conscience, which 
being ill used, at length refuses to direct them. 
And thus, being left by their true inward guide, 
they are obliged to take another guide, their 
reason, which by itself knows little or nothing 
about religion ; then this their blind reason forms 
a system of right or wrong for them, as well as it 
can, flattering to their own desires, and presump- 
tuous where it is not actually corrupt. No won- 
der such a scheme contradicts Scripture, which 
it is soon found to do; not that they are certain 
to perceive this themselves ; they often do not 
know it, and think themselves still believers in 
the Gospel, while they maintain doctrines which 
the Gospel condemns. But sometimes they per- 


ceive that their system is contrary to Scripture ; 
and then, instead of giving it up, they give up 
Scripture, and profess themselves unbelievers. 
Such is the course of disobedience, beginning in 
(apparently) slight omissions, and ending in open 
unbelief; and all men who walk in the broad way 
which leads to destruction are but in different 
stages of it, one more advanced than another, but 
all in one way. And I have spoken of it here, in 
order to remind you how intimately it is connected 
with the neglect of set private prayer ; whereas, 
he who is strict in the observance of prayer morn- 
ing and evening, praying with his heart as well as 
his lips, can hardly go astray, for every morning 
and evening brings him a monitor to draw him 
back and restore him. 

Beware then of the subtilty of your Enemy, 
who would fain rob you of your defence. Do not 
yield to his bad reasonings. Be on your guard 
especially, when you get into novel situations or 
circumstances which interest and delight you, 
lest they throw you out of your regularity in 
prayer. Any thing new or unexpected is dan- 
gerous to you. Going much into mixed society, 
and seeing many strange persons, taking share in 
any pleasant amusements, reading interesting 
books, entering into a new line of life, forming 
some new acquaintance, the prospect of any 
worldly advantage, travelling ; all these things and 
such like, innocent as they are in themselves, and 


capable of a religious use, become means of temp- 
tation if we are not on our guard. See that you 
are not unsettled by them ; this is the danger ; fear 
becoming unsettled. Consider that stability of 
mind is the chief of virtues, for it is Faith. " Thou 
wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is 
stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee ' ;" 
this is the promise. But " the wicked are like 
the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters 
cast up mire and dirt ; there is no peace, saith my 
God, to the wicked ^" Nor to the wicked only, 
in our common sense of the word " wicked," but 
to none is there rest, who in any way leave their 
God, and rove after the goods of this world. Do 
not indulge visions of earthly good, fix your hearts 
on higher things, let your morning and evening 
thoughts be points of rest for your mind's eye, and 
let those thoughts be upon the narrow way, and 
the blessedness of heaven, and the glory and 
power of Christ your Saviour. Thus will you be 
kept from unseemly risings and fallings, and 
steadied in an equable way. Men in general will 
know nothing of this; they witness not your 
private prayers, and they will confuse you with 
the multitude they fall in with. But your friends 
and acquaintance will gain a light and a comfort 
from your example ; they will see your good works, 
and be led to trace them to their true secret 

* Isaiah xxvi. 3, ' Isaiah Ivii. 20, 21. 




source, the influences of the Holy Ghost sought 
and obtained by prayer. Thus they will glorify 
your heavenly Father, and in imitation of you will 
seek Him ; and He who seeth in secret, shall at 
length reward you openly. 



Luke xi. 1. 
" Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." 

These words express the natural feelings of the 
awakened mind, perceiving its great need of God's 
help, yet not understanding well what its parti- 
cular wants are, or how they are to be relieved. 
The disciples of John the Baptist, and the dis- 
ciples of Christ, waited on their respective Masters 
for instruction Jiow to pray. It was in vain that 
the duty of repentance was preached to the one, 
and of faith to the other ; in vain that God's mer- 
cies and His judgments were set before them, and 
their own duties; they seem to have all that 
was necessary for making prayers for themselves, 
yet they could not ; their hearts were full, but 
they remained dumb ; they could offer no peti- 
tion except to be taught to pray ; they knew the 
Truth, but they could not use it. So different a 


thing is it to be instructed in religion, and to have 
so mastered it in practice, that it is altogether our 

Their need has been the need of Christians ever 
since. All of us in childhood, and most men ever 
after, require direction how to pray ; and hence 
the use of Forms of prayer, which have always ob- 
tained in the Church. John taught his disciples ; 
Christ gave the Apostles the prayer which is dis- 
tinguished by the name of the Lord's Prayer; 
and after He had ascended on high, the Holy 
Spirit has given us excellent services of devotion 
by the mouth of those blessed saints, whom from 
time to time He has raised up to be overseers in 
the Church. In the words of St. Paul, "We 
know not what we should pray for as we ought ^ ;" 
but "the Spirit helpeth our infirmities;" and that, 
not only by guiding our thoughts, but by directing 
our words. 

This, I say, is the origin of Forms of prayer, of 
which I mean to speak to-day ; viz. these two un- 
deniable truths, first, that all men have the same 
spiritual wants, and, secondly, that they cannot 
of themselves express them. 

Now it has so happened, that in these latter 
times self-wise reasoners have arisen who have 
questioned the use of Forms of prayer, and have 
thought it better to pray out of their own thoughts 

' Rom. viii. 26. 


at random, using words which come into their 
minds at the time they pray. It may be right, 
then, that we should have some reason at hand 
for our use of those Forms, which we have adopted 
because they were handed down to us. Not, as 
if it were not quite a sufficient reason for using 
them, that we have received them, and (in St. 
Paul's words,) that " neither we nor the Churches 
of God have known any other custom V' and 
that the best of Christians have ever used them ; 
for this is an abundantly satisfactory reason ; — nor 
again, as if we could hope by reasons ever so 
good, to persuade those who inquire of us, which 
most likely we shall not be able to do ; for a man 
is far gone in extravagance who deliberately de- 
nies the use of Forms, and is likely to find our 
reasons as difficult to receive as the practice we 
are defending; — so that we can only say of such 
men, after St. Paul's manner, "if any man be 
ignorant, let him be ignorant," there is no help 
for it. But it may be useful to show you how 
reasonable the practice is, in order that you 
yourselves may turn it to better account ; for 
when we know why we do a thing, we are 
likely (the same circumstances being supposed) 
to do it more comfortably than when we obey 

Now, I suppose no one is in any difficulty 

' 1 Cor. xi. 16. 


about the use of Forms of prayer in public worship ; 
for common sense almost will tell us, that when 
many are to pray together as one man, if their 
thoughts are to go together, they must agree before- 
hand what is to be the subject of their prayers, 
nay, what the words of their prayers, if there is 
to be any certainty, composure, ease, and regu- 
larity, in their united devotions. To be present 
at extempore prayer, is to hear prayers. Nay, it 
might happen, or rather often would happen, that 
we did not understand what was said ; and then 
the person praying is scarcely praying " in a 
tongue understanded of the people" (as our 
Article expresses it) ; he is rather interceding 
for the people, than praying with them, and leading 
their worship. In the case, then, of public prayer 
the need of forms is evident ; but it is not at first 
sight so obvious that in private prayer also we need 
use written Forms, instead of praying extempore 
(as it is called) ; so I proceed to show the use of 

1. Let us bear in mind the precept of the wise 
man. " Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not 
thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before 
God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon 
earth ; therefore let thy words be few '." Prayers 
framed at the moment are likely to become irre~ 
verent. Let us consider for a few moments before 

' Eccles. V. 2. 


we pray, into whose presence we are entering, — 
the presence of God. What need have we of 
humble, sober, and subdued thoughts ! as becomes 
creatures, sustained hourly by His bounty ; — as be- 
comes lost sinners who have no right to speak at 
all, but must submit in silence to Him who is 
holy ; and still more, as grateful servants of Him 
who bought us from ruin at the price of His own 
blood ; meekly sitting at His feet like Mary to 
learn and to do His will, and like the penitent at 
the great man's feast, quietly adoring Him, and 
doing Him service without disturbance, washing 
His feet (as it were) with our tears, and anointing 
them with precious ointment, as having sinned 
much and needing a large forgiveness. There- 
fore, to avoid the irreverence of many or unfit 
words and rude half-religious thoughts, it is neces- 
sary to pray from book or memory, and not at 

It may be objected, that this reason for using 
Forms proves too much ; viz. that it would be 
wrong ever to do without them ; which is an over- 
rigorous bond upon Christian liberty. But I 
reply, that reverence in our prayers will be suf- 
ficiently secured, if at our stated seasons for prayer 
we make use of Forms. For thus a tone and cha- 
racter will be imparted to our devotion throughout 
the day ; nay, even the very petitions and ejacula- 
tions will be supplied, which we need. And 
much more will our souls be influenced by the 



power of them, at the very time we are using 
them ; so that, should the occasion require, we 
shall find ourselves able to go forward naturally 
and soberly into such additional supplications, as 
are of too particular or private a nature, to admit 
of being written down in set words. 

2. In the next place, forms of prayer are neces- 
sary to guard us against the irreverence of wander- 
ing thoughts. If we pray without set words (read 
or remembered), our minds will stray from the sub- 
ject ; other thoughts will cross us, and we shall 
pursue them ; we shall lose sight of His presence 
whom we are addressing. This wandering of mind 
is in good measure prevented, under God's blessing, 
by Forms of prayer. Thus a chief use of them is 
that oijia^ing the attention. 

3. Next, they are useful in securing us from 
the irreverence of excited thoughts. And here 
there is room for saying much ; for, it so happens 
Forms of prayer are censured for the very cir- 
cumstance about them which is their excellence. 
They are accused of impeding the current of de- 
votion, when, in fact, that (so called) current is in 
itself faulty, and ought to be checked. And those 
persons (as might be expected) are most eager in 
their opposition to them, who require more than 
others the restraint of them. They sometimes 
throw their objection into the following form, 
which it may be worth while to consider. They 
say, " If a man is in earnest, he will soon find 


words ; there is no need of a set Form of prayer. 
And if he is not in earnest, a Form can do him 
no good." Now that a man who is in earnest will 
soon find words, is true or not true, according 
to what is meant by being in earnest. It is true 
that at certain times of strong emotion, grief or 
joy, remorse or fear, our religious feelings outrun 
and leave behind them any Form of words. In 
such cases not only is there no need of Forms of 
prayer, but it is perhaps impossible to write Fwms 
of prayer for Christians agitated by such feelings. 
For each man feels in his own way, — perhaps no 
two men exactly alike ; — and we can no more write 
down how men ought to pray at such times, than 
we can give rules how they should weep or be 
merry. The better men they are, of course the 
better they will pray in such a trying time; but 
you cannot make them better; they must be left 
to themselves. And, though good men have be- 
fore now set down in writing Forms of prayer 
for persons so circumstanced, these were doubtless 
meant rather as patterns and helps, or as admoni- 
tions and (if so be) quietings of the agitated mind, 
than as prayers which it was expected would be 
used literally and entirely in their detail. As a 
general rule, Forms of prayer should not be written 
in strong and impassioned language ; but should 
be calm, composed, and short. Our Saviour's own 
prayer is our model in this respect. How few are 
its petitions ! how soberly expressed ! \\o\\ reve- 


rently ! and at the same time how deep are they, 
and how comprehensive ! — I readily grant, then, 
that there are times when the heart outruns any 
written words ; as the jailor cried out, " What shall 
I do to be saved ?" Nay, rather I would maintain 
that set words should not attempt to imitate the 
impetuous workings to which all minds are subject 
at times in this world of change, (and therefore 
religious minds in the number,) lest one should 
seem to encourage them. 

Still the question is not at all settled ; granting 
there are times when a thankful or a wounded 
heart bursts through all Forms of prayer, yet these 
are not frequent. To be excited is not the ordi- 
nary state of the mind, but the extraordinary, the 
now and then state. Nay, more than this, it 
ought not to be the common state of the mind; 
and if we are encouraging within us this excite- 
ment, this unceasing rush and alternation of feel- 
ings, and think that this, and this only, is being 
in earnest in religion, we are harming our minds, 
and (in one sense) T may even say, grieving the 
peaceful Spirit of God, which would silently and 
tranquilly work His Divine work in our hearts. 
This, then, is an especial use of Forms of prayer, 
when we are in earnest, as we ought always to be, 
viz. to keep us from irreverent earnestness, to still 
emotion, to calm us, to remind us what and where 
we are, to lead us to a purer and serener temper, 
and to that deep unruffled love of God and man, 

VOL. I. X 


which is really the fulfilling of the law, and the 
perfection of human nature. 

Then, again, as to the usefulness of Forms, if we 
are 7iot in earnest, this also is true or not, as we 
may take it. For there are degrees of earnest- 
ness. Let us recollect, the power of praying, 
being a habit, must be acquired, like all other 
habits, by practice. In order at length to pray 
well, we must begin by praying ill, since ill is all 
we can do. Is not this plain? Who, in the 
case of any other work, would wait till he could 
do it perfectly, before he tried it? The idea is 
absurd. Yet those who object to Forms of prayer 
on the ground just mentioned, fall into this strange 
error. If, indeed, we could pray and praise God, 
like the Angels, we might have no need of Forms 
of prayer ; but Forms are to teach those who pray 
poorly to pray better. They are helps to our 
devotion, as teaching us what to pray for, and 
how, as St. John and our Lord taught their dis- 
ciples ; and, doubtless, even the best of us prays 
but poorly, and needs the help of them. However, 
the persons I speak of, think that prayer is nothing 
else but the bursting forth of strong feeling, not 
the action of a habit, but an emotion, and, there- 
fore, of course to such men the very notion of learn- 
ing to pray seems absurd. But this indulgence of 
emotion is in truth founded on a mistake, as I have 
already said. 

4. Further, forms are useful to help our memwy. 


and to set before us at once, completely, and in 
order, what we have to pray for. It does not 
follow, that when the heart is really fall of the 
thought of God, and alive to the reality of things 
unseen, then it is easiest to pray. Rather, the deeper 
insight we have into His Majesty and our innu- 
merable wants, the less we shall be able to draw 
out our thoughts into words. The publican could 
only say, " God be merciful to me a sinner ;" this 
was enough for his acceptance; but to offer such 
a scanty service was not to exercise the gift of 
prayer, the privilege of a ransomed and exalted 
son of God. He whom Christ has illuminated 
with His grace, is heir of all things. He has an 
interest in the world's multitude of matters. He 
has a boundless sphere of duties within and with- 
out him. He has a glorious prospect before him. 
The saints shall hereafter judge the world; and 
shall they not here take cognizance of its doings ? 
are they not in one sense counsellors and confi- 
dential servants of their Lord, intercessors at the 
throne of grace, the secret agents by and for 
whom He guides His high Providence, and carries 
on the nations to their doom ? And in their own 
persons is forgiveness merely and acceptance (ex- 
treme blessings as these are) the scope of their 
desires ? else might they be content with the pub- 
lican's prayer. Are they not rather bidden to go 
on to perfection, to use the Spirit given them, 
to enlarge and purify their own hearts, and to 



draw out the nature of man into the fulness of its 
capabihties after the image of the Son of God ? 
And for the thought of all these objects at once 
who is sufficient ? Whose mind is not overpowered 
by the view of its own immense privilege, so as 
eagerly to seek for words of prayer and intercession 
carefully composed according to the number and 
the nature of the various petitions it has to offer ? 
so that he who prays without plan, is in fact losing 
a great part of the privilege with which his Bap- 
tism has gifted him. 

5. And further, the use of a Form as a help to 
the memory is still more obvious, when we take 
into account the engagements of this world with 
which most men are surrounded. The cares and 
businesses of life press upon us with a reality 
which we cannot overlook. Shall we trust the 
matters of the next world to the chance thoughts 
of our own minds, which come this moment, and 
go the next, and may not be at hand when the 
time of employing them arrives, like unreal visions, 
having no substance and no permanence? This 
world is Satan's efficacious Form, it is the instru- 
ment through which he spreads out in order and 
attractiveness his many snares ; and these doubtless 
will engross us, unless we also give form to the 
spiritual objects towards which we pray and labour. 
How short are the seasons which most men have 
to give to prayer? Before they can collect their 
memories and minds, their leisure is almost over. 


even if they have the power to dismiss the thoughts 
of this world, which just before engaged them. 
Now forms of prayer do this /or them. They 
keep the ground occupied, that Satan may not 
encroach upon the seasons of devotion. They are 
a standing memorial, to which we can recur as to a 
temple of God, finding every thing in order for our 
worship as soon as we go into it, though the time 
allotted us at morning and evening be ever so cir- 

6. And this use of Forms in prayer becomes 
great, beyond power of estimating, in the case of 
those multitudes of men, who, after going on well 
for a while, fall into sin. If even conscientious 
men require continual aids to be reminded of the 
next world, how extreme is the need of those who 
try to forget it ! It cannot be denied, fearful as it 
is to reflect upon it, that far the greater number 
of those who come to manhood, for a while (at 
least) desert the God who has redeemed them; 
and, then, if in their earlier years they have 
learned and used no prayers or psalms by which 
to worship Him, what is to keep them from blot- 
ting altogether from their minds the thought of 
religion ? But here it is that the Forms of the 
Church have ever served her children, both to re- 
strain them in their career of sin, and to supply 
them with ready utterance on their repentance. 
Chance words and phrases of her services adhere 
to their memories, rising up in moments of tempta- 


tion or of trouble, to check or to recover them. 
And hence it happens, that in the most irreligious 
companies a distinction is said to be observable 
between those who have had the opportunity of 
using our public Forms in their youth, and those 
whose religious impressions have not been thus 
happily fortified ; so that, amid their most reckless 
mirth, and most daring pretence of profligacy, a 
sort of secret reverence has attended the wan- 
derers, restraining them from that impiety and 
profaneness in which the others have tried to con- 
ceal from themselves the guilt and peril of their 

And again on their repentance, (should they 
be favoured with so high a grace,) what friends do 
they seem to find amid their gloom in the words 
they learned in their boyhood, — a kindly voice, 
aiding them to say what they otherwise would not 
know how to say, guiding and composing their 
minds upon those objects of faith which they 
ought to look to, but cannot find of themselves, 
and so (as it were) interceding for them with the 
power of the blessed Spirit, while nature can but 
groan and travail in pain ! Sinners as they are 
by their own voluntary misdeeds, and with a pro- 
spect of punishment before them, enlightened by 
but few and faint gleams of hope, what shall 
keep them from feverish restlessness, and all the 
extravagance of fear, what shall soothe them into 
a fixed, resigned waiting for their Judge, and 


such lowly eflforts to obey Him, however poorly, as 
become a penitent, but those words, long buried in 
their minds, and now rising again as if with the 
life of their uncorrupted boyhood ? It requires no 
great experience of sick beds to verify the truth of 
this statement. Blessed, indeed, is the power of 
those formularies, which thus succeed in throwing 
a sinner for a while out of himself, and in bringing 
before him the scenes of his youth, his guardian 
friends now long departed, their ways and their 
teaching, their pious services, and their peaceful 
end ; and though all this is an excitement, and 
lasts but for a season, yet, if improved, it may be 
converted into an habitual contemplation of per- 
sons and deeds which now live to God, though 
removed hence, — if improved by acting upon it, 
it will become an abiding motive to seek the world 
to come, an abiding persuasion, winning him from 
the works of darkness, and raising him to the hum- 
ble hope of future acceptance with his Saviour and 

7. Such is the force of association in undoing 
the evil of past years, and recalling us to the 
innocence of children. Nor is this all we may 
gain from the prayers we use, nor are penitent 
sinners the only persons who can profit by it. 
Let us recollect for how long a period our prayers 
have been the standard Forms of devotion in the 
Church of Christ, and we shall gain a fresh 
reason for loving them, and a fresh source of 


comfort in using them. I know different persons 
will feel differently here, according to their dif- 
ferent turn of mind ; yet surely there are few of 
us, if we dwelt on the thought, but would feel it 
a privilege to use, as we do, (for instance, in the 
Lord's Prayer,) the very petitions which Christ 
spoke. He gave the prayer and used it. His 
Apostles used it; all the Saints ever since have 
used it. When we use it we seem to join company 
with them. Who does not think himself brought 
nearer to any celebrated man in history, by seeing 
his house, or his furniture, or his handwriting, or 
the very books that were his ? Thus does the 
Lord's Prayer bring us near to Christ, and to His 
disciples in every age. No wonder, then, that in 
past times good men thought this form of prayer 
so sacred, that it seemed to them impossible to 
say it too often, as if some especial grace went 
with the use of it. Nor can we use it too often ; 
it contains in itself a sort of plea for Christ's 
Hstening to us; we cannot, so that we keep our 
thoughts fixed on its petitions, and use our minds 
as well as our lips when we repeat it. And what 
is true of the Lord's Prayer, is in its measure true 
of most of those prayers which our Church teaches 
us to use. It is true of the Psalms also, and of the 
Creeds ; all of which have become sacred, from 
the memory of saints departed who have used 
them, and whom we hope one day to meet in 


One caution I give in conclusion as to using 
these thoughts. Beware lest your religion be one 
of sentiment merely, not of practice. Men may 
speak in a high imaginative way of the ancient 
Saints and the Holy Apostolic Church, without 
making the fervour or refinement of their devotion 
bear upon their conduct. Many a man likes to be 
religious in graceful language ; he loves religious 
tales and hymns, yet is never the better Christian 
for all this. The works of every day, these are 
the tests of our glorious contemplations, whether 
or not they shall be available to our salvation ; 
and he who does one deed of obedience for Christ's 
sake, let him have no imagination and no fine 
feeling, is a better man, and returns to his home 
justified rather than the most eloquent speaker, 
and the most sensitive hearer, of the glory of the 
Gospel, if such men do not practise up to their 



Luke xx. 37, 38. 

" Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, 
when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God 
of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For He is not a God of the 
dead, but of the living ; for all live unto Him." 

These words of our Saviour show us how much 
more there is in Scripture than at first siglit 
appears. God spoke to Moses in the burning 
bush, and called Himself the " God of Abra- 
ham ;" and Christ tells us, that in this simple 
announcement was contained the promise that 
Abraham should rise again from the dead. In 
truth, if we may say it with reverence, the All- 
vnse, All-knowing God cannot speak without 
meaning many things at once. He sees the end 
from the beginning ; He understands the num- 
berless connexions and relations of all things one 
with another. Every word of His is full of in- 
struction, looking many ways ; and though it is 


not often given to us to know these various senses, 
and we are not at liberty to attempt lightly to 
imagine them, yet, as far as they are told us, 
and as far as we may reasonably infer them, we 
must thankfully accept them. Look at Christ's 
words, and this same character of them strikes 
us ; whatever He says is fruitful in meaning, and 
refers to many things. It is well to keep this in 
mind when we read Scripture ; for it may hinder 
us from self-conceit, from studying it in an 
arrogant critical temper, and from giving over 
reading it, as if we had got from it all that can be 

Now let us consider in what sense the text con- 
tains a promise of a resurrection, and see what 
instruction may be gained from knowing it. 

When God called Himself the God of Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob, He implied that those holy patri- 
archs were still alive, though they were no more 
seen on earth. This may seem evident at first 
sight ; but it may be asked, how the text proves 
that their bodies would live ; for, if their souls were 
still living, that would be enough to account for 
their being still called in the Book of Exodus, 
servants of God. This is the point to be con- 
sidered. Our Blessed Lord seems to tell us, that 
in some sense or other Abraham's body might be 
considered still alive as a pledge of his resurrection, 
though it was dead in the common sense in which 
we apply the word. His announcement is, Abra- 


ham shall rise from the dead, because in truth, he 
is still alive. He cannot in the end be held under 
the power of the grave, more than a sleeping man 
can be kept from waking. Abraham is still alive 
in the dust, though not risen thence. He is alive 
because all God's saints live to Him, though they 
seem to perish. 

It may seem a paradox to say, that our bodies, 
even when dead, are still alive ; but since our 
Lord seems to countenance us in saying so, I will 
say it, though a strange saying, because it has an 
instructive meaning. We are apt to talk about 
our bodies as if we knew how or what they really 
were ; whereas we only know what our eyes tell 
us. They seem to grow, to come to maturity, 
to decay; but after all we know no more about 
them than meets our senses, and there is, doubt- 
less, much which God sees in our material frames, 
which we cannot see. We have no direct cogni- 
zance of what may be called the substantive 
existence of the body, only of its accidents. 
Again, we are apt to speak of soid and body^ as if 
we could distinguish between them, and knew 
much about them ; but for the most part we use 
words without meaning. It is useful indeed to 
make the distinction, and Scripture makes it ; but 
after all, the Gospel speaks of our nature, in a 
religious sense, as one. Soul and body make up 
one man, which is born once, and never dies. 
Philosophers of old time thought the soul indeed 


might live for ever, but that the body perished at 
death; but Christ tells us otherwise, He tells us 
the body will live for ever. In the text He seems 
to intimate that it never really dies ; that we lose 
sight indeed of what we are accustomed to see, but 
that God still sees the elements of it which are not 
exposed to our senses. 

God graciously called Himself the God of Abra- 
ham. He did not say the God of Abraham's soul, 
but simply of Abraham. He blest Abraham, and 
He gave him eternal life ; not to his soul only 
without his body, but to Abraham as one man. 
And so He is our God, and it is not given us to 
distinguish between what He does for our different 
natures, spiritual and material. These are mere 
words ; each of us may feel himself to be one, and 
that one being, in all its substantial parts, and attri- 
butes, will never die. 

You will see this more clearly by considering 
what our Saviour says about the blessed Sacra- 
ment of His Supper. He says He will give us His 
flesh to eat^ How is this done? we do not know. 
He gives it under the outward symbols of bread 
and wine. But in what real sense is the conse- 
crated bread His body ? It is not told us, we may 
not inquire. We say indeed sfirituaUy^ sacra- 
mentally, in a heavenly way; but this is in order 
to impress on our minds religious, and not carnal 

John vi. 51. 


notions of it. All we are concerned to know is, 
the effect upon us of partaking this blessed food. 
Now observe what He tells us about that. " Ex- 
cept ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink 
His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth 
My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life, 
and I will raise Jiim up at the last day^T Now 
there is no distinction made here between soul 
and body. Christ's blessed Supper is food to us 
altogether, whatever we are, soul, body, and all. 
It is the seed of eternal life within us, the food 
of immortality, to " preserve our body and soul 
unto everlasting life^" The forbidden fruit 
wrought in Adam unto death ; but this is the fruit 
which makes us live for ever. Bread sustains us 
in this temporal life ; the consecrated bread is the 
means of eternal strength for soul and body. Who 
could live this visible life without earthly food ? 
And in the same general way the Supper of the 
Lord is the " means " of our living for ever. We 
have no reason for thinking we shall live for ever 

' John vi. 53, 54. 

' "In the Supper of the Lord there is no vain ceremony, no 
bare sign, no untrue figure of a thing absent ; but as the Scrip- 
ture says, the communion of the Body and Blood of the 

Lord, in a marvellous incorporation, which by the operation of 

the Holy Ghost is through faith wrought in the souls of 

the faithful, whereby not only their souls live to eternal life, 
but they surely trust to win their bodies a resurrection to immor- 
tality." — Homily on the Sacrament, Part I. 


unless we eat it, no more than we have reason to 
think our temporal life will be sustained without 
meat and drink. God can, indeed, sustain us, " not 
by bread alone ;" but this is His ordinary means, 
which His will has made such. He can sustain our 
immortality without the Christian Sacraments, as 
He sustained Abraham and the other saints of old 
time ; but under the Gospel these are His means, 
which He appointed at His will. We eat the 
sacred bread, and our bodies become sacred ; they 
are not ours ; they are Christ's ; they are instinct 
with that flesh which saw not corruption ; they are 
inhabited by His Spirit ; they become immortal ; 
they die but to appearance, and for a time ; they 
spring up when their sleep is ended, and reign 
with Him for ever. 

The inference to be drawn from this doctrine is 
plain. Among the wise men of the heathen, as I 
have said, it was usual to speak slightingly and 
contemptuously of the mortal body; they knew 
no better. They thought it scarcely a part of 
their real selves, and fancied they should be in a 
better condition without it. Nay, they considered 
it to be the cause of their sinning ; that the soul 
of man was pure, and the material body was 
gross, and defiled the soul. We have been taught 
the truth, viz. that sin is a disease of our minds, 
of ourselves ; and that all of us, not body alone, 
but soul and body, is naturally corrupt, and that 
Christ has redeemed and cleansed whatever we 


are, sinful soul and body. Accordingly their 
chief hope in death was the notion they should 
be rid of their body. Feeling they were sinful, 
and not knowing how, they laid the charge on 
their body; and knowing they were badly cir- 
cumstanced here, they thought death perchance 
might be a change for the better. Not that they 
rested on the hope of returning to a God and 
Father, but they thought to be unshackled from 
the earth, and able to do what they would. It 
was consistent with this slighting of their earthly 
tabernacle, that they burned the dead bodies of 
their friends, not burying them as we do, but 
consuming them as a mere worthless case of what 
had been precious, and was then an incumbrance 
to the ground. Far different is the temper which 
the glorious light of the Gospel teaches us. Our 
bodies shall rise again and live for ever; they 
may not be irreverently handled. How they 
will rise we know not ; but surely if the word of 
Scripture be true, the body from which the soul 
departed shall come to life. There are some 
truths addressed solely to our faith, not to our 
reason ; not to our reason, because we know so 
little about " the power of God," (in our Saviour's 
words,) that we have nothing to reason upon. 
One of these, for instance, is the presence of Christ 
in the Sacrament. We know we eat His Body 
and Blood ; but it is our wisdom not curiously 
to ask how or whence, not to give our thoughts 


range, but to take and eat and profit thereby. 
This is the secret of gaining the blessing promised. 
And so, as regards the resurrection of the dead, 
we have no means or ground of argument. We 
cannot determine in what exact sense our bodies 
will be on the resurrection the same as they are 
at present, but we cannot harm ourselves by tak- 
ing God's declaration simply, and acting upon it. 
And it is as believing this comfortable truth, that 
the Christian Church put aside that old irreve- 
rence of the funeral pile, and consecrated the 
ground for the reception of the saints that sleep. 
We deposit our departed friends calmly and 
thoughtfully, in faith ; not ceasing to love or re- 
member that which once lived among us, but 
marking the place where it lies, as believing that 
God has set His seal upon it, and His Angels 
guard it. His Angels, surely, guard the bodies 
of His servants; Michael the Archangel, thinking 
it no unworthy task to preserve them from the 
powers of eviP. Especially those like Moses, 
who fall "in the wilderness of the people," whose 
duty has called them to danger and suffering, and 
who die a violent death, these too, if they have 
eaten of that incorruptible bread, are preserved 
safe till the last day. There are, who have not 
the comfort of a peaceful burial. They die in 
battle, or on the sea, or in strange lands, or as 

' Jude 9. 
VOL. I. Y 


the early believers, under the hands of persecu- 
tors. Horrible tortures, or the mouths of wild 
beasts, have ere now dishonoured the sacred 
bodies of those who had fed upon Christ ; and 
diseases corrupt them still. This is Satan's work, 
the expiring efforts of his fury, after his overthrow 
by Christ. Still, as far as we can, we repair 
these insults of our Enemy, and tend honourably 
and piously those tabernacles in which Christ has 
dwelt. And in this view, what a venerable and 
fearful place is a Church, in and around which 
the dead are deposited ! Truly it is chiefly sacred, 
as being the spot where God has for ages mani- 
fested Himself to His servants; but add to this 
the thought, that it is the actual resting-place of 
those very servants, through successive times, who 
still live unto Him. The dust around us will 
one day become animate. We may ourselves be 
dead long before, and not see it. We ourselves 
may elsewhere be buried, and should it be our 
exceeding blessedness to rise to life eternal, we 
may rise in other places, far in the east or west. 
But, as God's word is sure, what is sown is 
raised ; the earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to 
dust, shall become glory to glory, and life to the 
living God, and a true incorruptible image of the 
spirit made perfect. Here the saints sleep, here 
they shall rise. A great sight will a Christian 
country then be, if earth remains what it is ; when 
holy places pour out the worshippers who have 


for generations kept vigil therein, waiting through 
the long night for the bright coming of Christ ! 
And if this be so, what pious composed thoughts 
should be ours when we enter Churches! God 
indeed is every where, and His Angels go to and 
fro; yet can they be more worthily employed in 
their condescending care of man, than where good 
men sleep ? In the service of the Communion we 
magnify God together with Angels and Archangels, 
and all the company of heaven. Surely there is 
more meaning in this than we know of; what a 
"dreadful" place would this appear if our eyes 
were opened as those of Elisha's servant ! " This 
is none other than the house of God, and this is 
the gate of heaven." 

On the other hand, if the dead bodies of Chris- 
tians are honourable, so doubtless are the living ; 
because they have had their blessedness when 
living, therefore have they in their sleep. He 
who does not honour his own body as something 
holy unto the Lord, may indeed revere the dead, 
but it is then a mere superstition, not an act of 
piety. To reverence holy places (right as it is) 
will not profit a man unless he reverences himself. 
Consider what it is to be partaker of the Body 
and Blood of Christ. We pray God, in our 
Church's language, that " our sinful bodies may 
become clean through His body;" and we are 
promised in Scripture, that our bodies shall be 
temples of the Holy Ghost. How should we study, 



then, to cleanse them from all sin, that they may 
be true members of Christ ! We are told that 
the peril of disease and death attends the unworthy 
partaking of the Lord's Supper. Is this wonderful, 
considering the strange sin of receiving it into a 
body disgraced by wilful disobedience? All that 
defiles it, intemperance or other vice, all that is 
unbecoming, all that is disrespectful to Him who 
has bought our bodies with a price, must be put 
aside ^ Hear St. Paul's words, "Christ being 
raised from the dead, dieth no more . . . likewise 
reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin . . . 
let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, 
that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof-." "If 
the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the 
dead dwell in you. He that raised up Christ from 
the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by 

His indwelling Spirit If ye, through the 

Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall 

Work together with God, therefore, my 
brethren, in this work of your redemption. 
While He feeds you, ' prepare for the heavenly 
feast; "discern the Lord's body" when it is 
placed before you, and suitably treasure it after- 
wards. Lay up year by year this seed of life 
within you, believing it will one day bear fruit. 
" Believe that ye receive it, and ye shall have 

' 1 Cor. vi. 20. ' Rom. vi. 9— 12. ' Rom. viii. 11. 


it'." Glorious, indeed, will be the spring time 
of the Resurrection, when all that seemed dry and 
withered will bud forth and blossom. The glory 
of Lebanon will be given it, the excellency of Car- 
mel and Sharon; the fir tree for the thorn, the 
myrtle tree for the briar; and the mountains and 
the hills shall break forth before us in singing. 
Who would miss being of that company ? Wretched 
men they will then appear, who now for a season 
enjoy the pleasures of sin. Wretched, who follow 
their own selfish will, instead of walking by faith, 
who are now idle, instead of trying to serve God, 
who are set upon the world's vanities, or who scoff 
at religion, or who allow themselves in known sin, 
who live in anger, or malice, or pride, or covetous- 
ness, who do not continually strive to become bet- 
ter and holier, who are afraid to profess themselves 
Christians and take up their cross and follow Christ. 
May the good Lord make us all willing to follow 
Him ! may He rouse the slumberers, and raise them 
to a new life here, that they may inherit His eter- 
nal kingdom hereafter ! 

' Mark xi. 24. 



Acts x. 40, 41. 

•' Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly ; 
not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of 
God, even to us who did eat and drink with Him after He 
rose from the dead." 

It might have been expected, that, on our Saviour's 
rising again from the dead, He would have shown 
Himself to very great numbers of people, and 
especially to those who crucified Him ; whereas, 
we know from the history, that, far from this 
being the case. He showed Himself only to 
chosen witnesses, chiefly His immediate followers; 
and St. Peter avows this in the text. This seems 
at first sight strange. We are apt to fancy the 
resurrection of Christ as some striking visible 
display of His glory, such as God vouchsafed 
from time to time to the Israelites in Moses' 
time; and considering it in the light of a public 
triumph, we are led to imagine the confusion 


and terror which would have overwhelmed His 
murderers, had He presented Himself alive be- 
fore them. Now, thus to reason, is to conceive 
Christ's kingdom of this world, which it is not ; 
and to suppose that then Christ came to judge 
the world, whereas that judgment will not come 
till the last day, when in very deed those wicked 
men shall " look on Him whom they have 

But even without insisting upon the spiritual 
nature of Christ's kingdom, which seems to be the 
direct reason why Christ did not show Himself to 
all the Jews after His resurrection, other distinct 
reasons may be given, instructive too. And one of 
these I will now set before you. 

This is the question, " Why did not our Saviour 
show Himself after His resurrection to all the peo- 
ple? why only to witnesses chosen before of God?" 
and this is my answer : " Because this was the most 
effectual means of propagating His religion through 
the world." 

After His resurrection. He said to His disciples, 
"Go, convert all nations ' :" this was His especial 
charge. If, then, there are grounds for thinking 
that, by showing Himself to a few rather than to 
many. He was more surely advancing this great 
object, the propagation of the Gospel, this is a 
sufficient reason for our Lord's having so ordained ; 

' Matt, xxviii. 19. 


and let us thankfully receive His dispensation, as 
He has given it. 

1. Now consider what would have been the 
probable effect of a public exhibition of His 
resurrection. Let us suppose that our Saviour 
had shown Himself as openly as before He suf- 
fered ; preaching in the Temple and in the streets 
of the city ; traversing the land with His Apos- 
tles, and with multitudes following to see the 
miracles which He did. What would have been 
the effect of this ? Of course, what it had already 
been. His former miracles had not effectually 
moved the body of the people ; and, doubtless, 
this miracle too would have left them as it found 
them, or worse than before. They might have 
been more startled at the time; but why should 
this amazement last ? When the man taken with 
a palsy was suddenly restored at His word, the 
multitude were all amazed, and glorified God, 
and were filled with fear, saying, " We have seen 
strange things to-day '." What could they have 
said and felt more than this, when " one rose 
from the dead?" In truth, this is the way of the 
mass of mankind in all ages, to be influenced by 
sudden fears, sudden contrition, sudden earnest- 
ness, sudden resolves, which disappear as sud- 
denly. Nothing is done effectually through un- 
trained human nature ; and such is ever the con- 

- Luke V. 26. 


ditioii of the multitude. Unstable as water, it 
cannot excel. One day it cried Hosanna ; the 
next, Crucify Him. And had our Lord appeared 
to them after they had crucified Him, of course 
they would have shouted Hosanna once more ; 
and when He had ascended out of sight, then 
again they would have persecuted His followers. 
Besides, the miracle of the Resurrection was much 
more exposed to the cavils of unbelief than others 
which our Lord had displayed ; than that, for 
instance, of feeding the multitudes in the wilder- 
ness. Had our Lord appeared in public, yet few 
could have touched Him, and certified themselves 
it was He Himself. Few, comparatively, in a 
great multitude could so have seen Him both 
before and after His death, as to be adequate 
witnesses of the reality of the miracle. It would 
have been open to the greater number of them 
still to deny that He was risen. This is the very 
feeling St. Matthew records. When He appeared 
on a mountain in Galilee to His apostles and 
others, as it would seem, (perhaps the five hundred 
brethren mentioned by St. Paul,) " some doubted''^ 
whether it were He. How could it be otherwise? 
these had no means of ascertaining that they 
really saw Hi7n who had been crucified, dead, 
and buried. Others, admitting it was Jesus, would 
have denied that He ever died. Not having seen 
Him dead on the cross, they might have pre- 
tended He was taken down thence before life was 


extinct, and so restored. This supposition would 
be a sufficient excuse to those who wished not to 
believe. And the more ignorant part would fancy 
they had seen a spirit without flesh and bones as 
man has. They would have resolved the miracle 
into a magical illusion, as the Pharisees had done 
before, when they ascribed His works to Beelze- 
bub ; and would have been rendered no better or 
more religious by the sight of Him, than the com- 
mon people are now-a-days by tales of apparitions 
and witches. 

Surely so it would have been ; the chief 
priests would not have been moved at all ; and 
the populace, however they had been moved at 
the time, would not have been lastingly moved, 
not practically moved, not so moved as to pro- 
claim to the world what they had heard and seen, 
to preach the Gospel. This is the point to be 
kept in view : and consider that the very reason 
why Christ showed Himself at all was in order to 
raise up witnesses to His resurrection, ministers of 
His word, founders of His Church, and how in the 
nature of things could a populace ever become 
such ? 

2. Now, on the other hand, let us contemplate 
the means which His Divine Wisdom actually 
adopted with a view of making His resurrection 
subservient to the propagation of His Gospel. — 
He showed Himself openly, not to all the people, 
but unto witnesses chosen before of God. It is, 


indeed, a general characteristic of the course of 
His providence to make the few the channels of 
His blessings to the many; but in the instance 
we are contemplating, a few were selected because 
only a few could (humanly speaking) be made 
instruments. As I have already said, to be wit- 
nesses of His resurrection it was requisite to have 
known our Lord intimately before His death. 
This was the case with the Apostles; but this 
was not enough. It was necessary they should 
be certain it was He Himself, the very same 
whom they before knew. You recollect how 
He urged them to handle Him, and be sure that 
they could testify to His rising again. This is 
intimated in the text also ; " witnesses chosen be- 
fore of God, even to us who did eat and drink 
with Him after He rose from the dead." Nor 
were they required merely to know Him, but the 
thought of Him was to be stamped upon their 
minds as the one master-spring of their whole 
course of life for the future. But men are not 
easily wrought upon to be faithful advocates of 
any cause. Not only is the multitude fickle : but 
the best men, unless urged, tutored, disciplined to 
their work, give way; untrained nature has no 

It would seem, then, that our Lord gave His 
attention to a few, because, if the few be gained, 
the many follow. To these few He showed Him- 
self again and again. These He restored, com- 


forted, warned, inspired. He formed them unto 
Himself, that they might show forth His praise. 
This His gracious procedure is opened to us in 
the first words of the book of the Acts. " To the 
Apostles w4iom He had chosen." " He showed 
Himself alive after His passion by many infal- 
lible proofs; being seen of them forty days, and 
speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom 
of God." Consider, then, if we may state the 
alternative reverently, which of the two seems the 
more likely way, even according to a human 
wisdom, of forming preachers of the Gospel to 
all nations, — the exhibition of the Resurrection to 
the Jewish people generally, or this intimate 
private certifying of it to a few ? And remember 
that, as far as we can understand, the two proce- 
dures were inconsistent with each other; for that 
period of preparatory prayer, meditation, and in- 
struction, which the Apostles passed under our 
Lord's visible presence for forty days, was to them 
what it could not have been, had they been follow- 
ing Him from place to place in public, supposing 
there had been an object in this, and mixing in the 
busy crowds of the world. 

3. I have already suggested, what is too ob- 
vious almost to insist upon, that in making a 
select few the ministers of His mercy to mankind 
at large, our Lord was but acting according to 
the general course of His providence. It is plain 
every great change is effected by the few, not by 


the many; by the resolute, undaunted, zealous 
few. True it is that societies sometimes fall to 
pieces by their own corruption, which is in one 
sense a change without special instruments 
chosen or allowed by God; but this is a disso- 
lution, not a work. Doubtless, much may be 
undone by the many, but nothing is dotie except 
by those who are specially trained for action. 
In the midst of the famine Jacob's sons stood 
looking one upon another, but did nothing. 
One or two men, of small outward pretensions, 
but with their hearts in their work, these do great 
things. These are prepared, not by sudden ex- 
citement, or by vague general belief in the truth 
of their cause, but by deeply impressed, often 
repeated instruction ; and since it stands to reason 
that it is easier to teach a few than a great num- 
ber, it is plain such men always will be few. 
Such as these spread the knowledge of Christ's 
resurrection over the idolatrous world. Well 
they answered the teaching of their Lord and 
Master. Their success sufficiently approves to us 
His wisdom in showing Himself to them, not to 
all the people. 

4. Remember, too, this further reason why the 
witnesses of the Resurrection were few in number ; 
viz. because they were on the side of Truth. If 
the witnesses were to be such as really loved and 
obeyed the Truth, there could not be many chosen. 
Christ's cause was the cause of light and religion. 


therefore His advocates and ministers were neces- 
sarily few. It is an old proverb, (which even the 
heathen admitted,) that "the many are bad." 
Christ did not confide His Gospel to the many; 
had He done so, we may even say, that it would 
have been at first sight a presumption against its 
coming from God. What was the chief work of 
His whole ministry, but that of choosing and 
separating from the multitude those who should 
be fit recipients of His Truth ? As He went the 
round of the country again and again, through 
Galilee and Judea, He tried the spirits of men 
the while ; and rejecting the baser sort who " ho- 
noured Him with their lips while their hearts 
were far from Him," He specially chose twelve. 
The many He put aside for a while as an adulterous 
and sinful generation, intending to make one 
last experiment on the mass when the Spirit 
should come. But His twelve He brought near 
to Himself at once, and taught them. Then He 
sifted them, and one fell away; the eleven 
escaped as though by fire. For these eleven 
especially He rose again ; He visited them and 
taught them for forty days ; for in them He saw 
the fruit of the " travail of His soul and was 
satisfied ;" in them " He saw His seed. He pro- 
longed His days, and the pleasure of the Lord 
prospered in His hand." These were His wit- 
nesses, for they had the love of the Truth in 
their hearts. " I have chosen you," He says 


to them, " and ordained you that ye should go and 
bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should re- 
main ^" 

So much then in answer to the question, why 
did not Christ show Himself to the whole Jewish 
people after His resurrection. I ask in reply, 
what would have been the use of it ? a mere 
passing triumph over sinners whose judgment is 
reserved for the next world. On the other hand, 
such a procedure would have interfered with, 
nay, defeated, the real object of His rising again, 
the propagation of His Gospel through the world 
by means of His own intimate friends and followers. 
And further, this preference of the few to the many 
seems to have been necessary from the nature of 
man, since all great works are effected, not by a 
multitude, but by the deep-seated resolution of 
a few ; — nay, necessary too from man's depravity, 
for, alas ! popular favour is hardly to be expected 
for the cause of Truth ; and our Lord's instruments 
were few, if for no other reason, yet at least for 
this, because more were not to be found, because 
there were but few faithful Israelites without guile 
in Israel according to the flesh. 

Now, let us observe how much matter, both for 
warning and comfort, is supplied by this view. 
We learn from the picture of the infant Church 
what that Church has been ever since, that is, 

' John XV. 16. 


as far as man can understand it. Many are called, 
few are chosen. We learn to reflect on the sfreat 
danger there is, lest we be not in the number of 
the chosen, and are warned to " watch and pray 
that we enter not into temptation," to " work out 
our salvation with fear and trembling," to seek 
God's mercy in His Holy Church, and to pray to 
Him ever that He would "fulfil in us the sfood 
pleasure of His will," and complete what He once 

But, besides this, we are comforted too; we 
are comforted, as many of us as are living humbly 
in the fear of God. Who those secret ones are, 
who in the bosom of the visible Church live as 
saints fulfilling their calling, God only knows. 
We are in the dark about it. We may indeed 
know much about ourselves, and we may form 
somewhat of a judgment about those with whom 
we are well acquainted. But of the general body 
of Christians we know little or nothing-. It is our 
duty to consider them as Christians, to take them 
as we find them, and to love them ; and it is no 
concern of ours to debate about their state in 
God's sight. Without however entering into this 
question concerning God's secret counsels, let us 
receive this truth before us for a practical ])iirpose ; 
that is, I speak to nil who are conscious to them- 
selves that they wish and try to serve God, what- 
ever their progress in religion be, and whether or 
not they dare apply to themselves, or in whatever 


degree, the title of Christian in its most sacred 
sense. All who obey the Truth are on the side of 
the Truth, and the Truth will prevail. Few in 
number but strong in the Spirit, despised by the 
world, yet making way while they suffered, the 
twelve Apostles overturned the power of darkness, 
and established the Christian Church. And let 
all " who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity " 
be quite sure, that weak though they seem, and 
solitary, yet the "foolishness of God is wiser 
than men, and the weakness of God is stronger 
than men." The many are " deceitful," and the 
worldly-wise are " vain ;" but he " that feareth 
the Lord, the same shall be praised." The most 
excellent gifts of the intellect last but for a season. 
Eloquence and wit, shrewdness and dexterity, these 
plead a cause well and propagate it quickly, but 
it dies with them. It has no root in the hearts 
of men, and lives not out a generation. It is 
the consolation of the despised Truth, that its 
works endure. Its words are few, but they live. 
Abel's faith to this day "yet speaketh^" The 
blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church. 
"Fret not thyself" then "because of evil doers, 
neither be thou envious against the workers of 
iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like 
the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust 
in the Lord and do good . . . delight thyself also 

' Hebrews xi. 4. 
VOL. I. Z 


in Him, and He shall give thee the desires of thy 
heart ; commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also 
in Him, and He shall bring it to pass . . . He 
shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, 
and thy judgment as the noon-day ... A little 
that a righteous man hath is better than the riches 
of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked 
shall be broken, but the Lord upholdeth the 
righteous .... I have seen the wicked in great 
power, and spreading himself like a green bay-tree, 
yet he passed away, and, lo ! he was not ; yea, I 
sought him, and he could not be founds" The 
heathen world made much ado when the Apostles 
preached the Resurrection. They and their asso- 
ciates were sent out as lambs among wolves ; but 
they prevailed. 

We too, though' we are not witnesses of Christ's 
actual resurrection, are so spiritually. By a heart 
awake from the dead, and by affections set on 
heaven, we can as truly and without figure wit- 
ness that Christ liveth, as they did. He that 
believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in 
himself. Truth bears witness by itself to its 
Divine Author. He who obeys God conscien- 
tiously, and lives holily, forces all about him to 
believe and tremble before the unseen power of 
Christ. To the world indeed at large he wit- 
nesses not; for few can see him near enough to 

^ Psalm xxxvii. 1—6. 16, 17. 35, 36. 


be moved by his manner of living. But to his 
neighbours he manifests the Truth in proportion 
to their knowledge of him ; and some of them, 
through God's blessing, catch the holy flame, 
cherish it, and in their turn transmit it. And thus 
m a dark world Truth still makes way in spite of 
the darkness, passing from hand to hand. And 
thus it keeps its station in high places, acknow- 
ledged as the creed of nations, the multitude of 
which are ignorant, the while, on what it rests, 
how it came there, how it keeps its ground ; and 
despising it, think it easy to dislodge it. But 
"the Lord reigneth." He is risen from the dead, 
" His throne is established of old ; He is from 
everlasting. The floods have lifted up their voice, 
the floods lift up their waves. The Lord on high 
is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, 
than the mighty waves of the sea. His testimo- 
nies are very sure; holiness becometh His house 
for ever \" 

Let these be our thoughts whenever the preva- 
lence of error leads us to despond. When St. 
Peter's disciple, Ignatius, was brought before the 
Roman emperor, he called himself Theophorus ; 
and when the emperor asked the feeble old man 
why he so called himself, Ignatius said it was 
because he carried Christ in his breast. He wit- 
nessed there was but One God, who made heaven, 

' Psalm xciii. 


earth, and sea, and all that is in them, and One 
Lord Jesus Christ, His Only-begotten Son, " whose 
kingdom (he added) be my portion !" The emperor 
asked, "His kingdom say you, who was crucified 
under Pilate?" "His (answered the Saint) who 
crucified my sin in me, and who has put all the 
fraud and malice of Satan under the feet of those 
who carry Him in their hearts : as it is written, ' I 
dwell in them and walk in them.' " 

Ignatius was one against many, as St. Peter had 
been before him; and was put to death as the 
Apostle had been : — ^but he handed on the Truth, 
in his day. At length we have received it. Weak 
though we be, and solitary, God forbid we should 
not in our turn hand it on ; glorifying Him by our 
lives, and in all our words and works witnessing 
Christ's passion, death, and resurrection ! 



Psalm ii. 11. 
" Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling." 

Why did Christ show Himself to so few witnesses 
after He rose from the dead ? Because He was a 
King, a King exalted upon God's " Holy hill of 
Zion ;" as the Psalm says which contains the text. 
Kings do not court the multitude, or show them- 
selves as a spectacle at the will of others. They 
are the rulers of their people, and have their state 
as such, and are reverently waited on by their great 
men : and when they show themselves, they do so 
out of their condescension. They act by means of 
their servants, and must be sought by those who 
would gain favours from them. 

Christ, in like manner, when exalted as the 
Only-begotten Son of God, did not mix with the 
Jewish people, as in the days of His humiliation. 
He rose from the grave in secret, and taught in 
secret forty days, because "the government was 


upon His shoulder." He was no longer a ser- 
vant washing His disciples' feet, and dependent 
on the wayward will of the multitude. He was 
the acknowledged Heir of all things. His throne 
was established by a Divine decree; and those 
who desired His salvation, were bound to seek His 
face. Yet not even by those who sought was He 
at once found. He did not permit the world to 
approach Him rashly, or curiously to gaze on 
Him. Those only did He call beside Him who 
had been His friends, who loved Him. Those 
only He bade "ascend the hill of the Lord," 
who had " clean hands and a pure heart, who 
had not worshipped vanity nor sworn deceitfully." 
These drew near, and " saw the Lord God of 
Israel," and so were fitted to bear the news of 
Him to the people at large. He remained "in 
His holy temple;" tliey from Him proclaimed the 
tidings of His resurrection, and of His mercy. 
His free pardon offered to all men, and the promises 
of grace and glory which His death had procured 
for all who believe. 

Thus are we taught to serve our risen Lord with 
fear and rejoice with trembling. Let us pursue 
the subject thus opened upon us. — Christ's second 
sojourn on earth (after His resurrection) was in 
secret. The time had been when He "preached 
openly in the synagogues," and in the public ways ; 
and openly wrought miracles such as man never 
did. Was there to be no end of His labours in 


our behalf? His death "finished" them; after- 
wards He taught His followers only. Who shall 
complain of His withdrawing Himself at last from 
the world, when it M'as of His own spontaneous 
loving-kindness that He ever showed Himself at 

Yet it must be borne in mind, that even before 
He entered into His glory, Christ spoke and acted 
as a King. It must not be supposed that, even 
in the days of His flesh. He could forget who 
He was, or " behave Himself unseemly " by any 
weak submission to the will of the Jewish people. 
Even in the lowest acts of His self-abasement, still 
He showed His greatness. Consider His conduct 
when He washed St. Peter's feet, and see if it 
were not calculated (assuredly it was) to humble, 
to awe, and subdue, the very person to whom He 
ministered. When He taught, warned, pitied, 
prayed for, His ignorant hearers, He never al- 
lowed them to relax their reverence or to over- 
look His condescension. Nay, He did not allow 
them to praise Him aloud, and publish His acts 
of grace ; as if what is called popularity would 
be a dishonour to His holy name, and the ap- 
plause of men would imply their right to censure. 
The world's praise is akin to contempt Our 
Lord delights in the tribute of the secret heart. 
Such was His conduct in the days of His flesh. 
Does it not interpret His dealings with us after 
His resurrection ? He who was so reserved in His 


communications of Himself, even when He came 
to minister, much more would withdraw Himself 
from^the eyes of men when He was exalted over 
all things. 

I have said, that even when a servant, Christ 
spoke with the authority of a king ; and have given 
you some proof of it. But it may be well to dwell 
upon this. Observe then, the difference between 
His promises, stated doctrinally and generally, and 
His mode of addressing those who were actually 
before Him, While He announced God's willing- 
ness to forgive all repentant sinners, in all fulness 
of loving-kindness and tender mercy, yet He did 
not use supplication to these persons or those, 
whatever their number or their rank might be. 
He spoke as one who knew He had great favours 
to confer, and had nothing to gain from those 
who received them. Far from urging them to 
accept His bounty. He showed Himself even 
backward to confer it, inquired into their know- 
ledge and motives, and cautioned them against 
entering His service without counting the cost of 
it. Thus sometimes He even repelled men from 

For instance : When there went " great multi- 
tudes with Him ... . He turned and said unto 
them. If any man come to Me, and hate not his 
father and mother, and wife and children, and 
brothers and sisters, yea, and his own life also, 
he cannot be My disciple." These were not the 


words of one who courted popularity. He pro- 
ceeds ; — " Which of you intending to build a 
tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the 
cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it ? . ... 
So likewise, whosoever he be of you, that for- 
saketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My 
disciple \" On the other hand, observe His con- 
duct to the powerful men, and the learned Scribes 
and Pharisees. There are persons who look up 
to human power, and who are pleased to asso- 
ciate their names with the accomplished and cul- 
tivated of this world. Our Blessed Lord was as 
inflexible towards these, as towards the crowds 
which followed Him. They asked for a sign ; 
He named them " an evil and adulterous gene- 
ration," who refused to profit by what they had 
already received *. They asked Him, whether He 
did not confess Himself to be one with God ; 
but He, rather than tell such proud disputers, 
seemed even to abandon His own real claim, and 
made His former clear words ambiguous ^ Such 
was the King of Israel in the eyes both of the 
multitude and of their rulers ; a " hard saying," 
a " rock of offence even to the disobedient," who 
came to Him " with their lips, while their hearts 
were far from Him." Continue this survey to 
the case of individuals, and it will still appear, 

' Luke xiv. 25—33. ' Matt. xii. 39. xxi. 23—27. 

' John X. 30—37. 


that, loving and merciful as He was most abun- 
dantly, yet that He showed both His power and 
His grace with reserve, even to them, as well as 
to the fickle many, or the unbelieving Pharisees. 

One instance is preserved to us of a person 
addressing Him, with some notions, indeed, of 
His greatness, but in a light and careless tone. 
The narrative is instructive from the mixture of 
good and bad which the inquirer's character dis- 
plays ^ He was young, and wealthy, and is 
called " a ruler ; " yet was anxious for Christ's 
favour. So far was well. Nay, he " came run- 
ning, and kneeled to Him." And he seemed to 
address Him in what would generally be con- 
sidered as respectful terms : " Good Master," 
he said. Yet our Saviour saw in his conduct a 
deficiency; — "One thing thou lackest:" viz. 
devotion in the true sense of the word, — a giving 
himself up to Christ. This young man seems to 
have considered religion as an easy work, and 
thought he could live as the world, and yet serve 
God acceptably. In consequence, we may suppose, 
he had little right notion of the dignity of a 
Messenger from God. He did not associate the 
Ministers of religion with awful prospects be- 
yond the grave, in which he was interested ; nor 
reverence them accordingly, though he was not 
without some kind of respect for them. Doubtless 

' Matt. xix. 16—22. Mark x. 17—22. Luke xviii. 18 — 23. 


he thought he was Jionouring our Lord when he 
called Him " Good Master ;" and would have 
been surprised to hear his attachment to sacred 
subjects and appointments called in question. 
Yet our Saviour rejected such half homage, and 
rebuked what even seemed piously offered. — 
" Why callest thou Me good ? " He asked ; 
"There is none good but One, that is, God:" as 
if He said, " Observest thou what words thou art 
using as words of course ? ' good Master ' — am I 
accounted by thee as a teacher of man's creation, 
and over whom man has power, and accosted by a 
form of honour, which, through length of time, 
has lost its meaning ; or am I acknowledged to 
come and have authority from Him who is the 
only source of goodness ? " Nor did our Lord 
relax His severity even after this reproof. Ex- 
pressly as it is told us, " He hoed him^^ and spoke 
to him therefore in great compassion and mercy, 
yet He strictly charged him to sell all he had and 
give it away, if he would show he was in earnest, 
and He sent him away " sorrowful." 

You may recollect, too, our Lord's frequent 
inquiry into the faith of those who came to Him. 
This arose, doubtless, from the same rule, — a 
regard to His own Majesty as a King. " If thou 
canst believe, all things are possible to him that 
belie veth \" He did not work miracles as a mere 

• Markix. 23. 


display of power ; or allow the world profanely 
to look on as at some exhibition of art. In this 
respect, as in others, even Moses and Elias stand 
in contrast with Him. Moses wrought miracles 
before Pharaoh to rival the magicians of Egypt. 
Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to bring 
down fire from heaven. The Son of God deigned 
not to exert His power before Herod, after Moses' 
pattern ; nor to be judged by the multitude, as 
Elijah. He subdued the power of Satan at His 
own seasons ; but when the Devil tempted Him 
and demanded a miracle in proof of His Divinity, 
He would do none. 

Further, even when an inquirer showed earn- 
estness, still He did not try to gain him over by 
smooth representations of His doctrine. He de- 
clared, indeed, the general characteristic of His 
doctrine, "My yoke is easy;" but "He made 
Himself strange and spake roughly" to those 
who came to Him. Nicodemus was another 
ruler of the Jews, who sought Him, and he pro- 
fessed his belief in His miracles and Divine 
mission. Our Saviour answered in these severe 
words ; — " Verily, verily, I say unto thee. Except a 
man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of 

Such was our Saviour's conduct even during 
the period of His ministry ; much more might 
we expect it to be such, when He was risen from 
His state of servitude, and such we find it. 


No man saw Him rise from the grave. His 
Angels indeed beheld it ; but His earthly fol- 
lowers were away, and the heathen soldiers were 
not worthy. They saw, indeed, the great Angel, 
who rolled away the stone from the opening of 
the tomb. This was Christ's servant ; but Him 
they saw not. He was on His way to see His 
own faithful and mourning followers. To these 
He had revealed His doctrine during His humi- 
liation, and called them " His friends ^" First 
of all. He appeared to Mary Magdalene in the 
garden itself where He had been buried ; then to 
the other women who ministered unto Him ; then 
to the two disciples travelling to Emmaus ; then 
to all the Apostles separately ; besides, to Peter 
and to James, and to Thomas in the presence 
of them all. Yet not even these. His friends, 
had free access to Him. He said to Mary, 
" Touch Me not." He came and left them 
according to His own pleasure. When they saw 
Him, they felt an awe which they had not felt 
during His ministry. While they doubted if it 
were He, " None of them," St. John says, " durst 
ask Him, Who art Thou ? believing that it was 
the Lord ^." However, as kings have their days of 
state, on which they show themselves publicly 
to their subjects, so our Lord appointed a meeting 
of His disciples, when they might see Him. He 

' Matt. xiii. 11. John xv. 15. * .Tohn xxi. 12. 


had determined this even before His crucifixion ; 
and the Angels reminded them of it. " He goeth 
before you into Galilee ; there shall ye see Him, as 
He said unto you ^" The place of meeting was a 
mountain ; the same (it is supposed) on which He 
had been transfigured ; and the number who saw 
Him there was five hundred at once, if we join St. 
Paul's account to that in the Gospels. At length, 
after forty days. He was taken from them ; He 
ascended up, "and a cloud received Him out of 
their sight." 

Are we to feel less humble veneration for Him 
now, than His Apostles then ? Though He is 
our Saviour, and has removed all slavish fear of 
death and judgment, are we, therefore, to make 
light of the prospect before us, as if we were sure 
of that reward which He bids us struggle for? 
Assuredly, we are still to "serve the Lord with 
fear, and rejoice with reverence," — to " kiss the 
Son, lest He be angry, and so we perish from the 
right way, if His wrath be kindled, yea but a 
little." In a Christian's course, fear anfl love 
must go together. And this is the lesson to be 
deduced from our Saviour's withdrawing from the 
world after His resurrection. He showed His 
love for men by dying for them, and rising 
again. He maintained His honour and great 
glory by retiring from them when His merciful 

' Mark xvi, 7- 


purpose was attained, that they might seek Him if 
they would find Him. He ascended to His Father 
out of our sight. Sinners would be ill company for 
the exalted King of Saints. When we have been 
duly prepared to see Him, we shall be given to 
approach Him. 

In heaven, love will absorb fear; but in this 
world, fear and love must go together. No one 
can love God aright without fearing Him ; though 
many fear Him, and yet do not love Him. Self- 
confident men, who do not know their own hearts, 
or the reasons they have for being dissatisfied 
with themselves, do not fear God, and they think 
this bold freedom is to love Him. Deliberate 
sinners fear but cannot love Him. But devotion 
to Him consists in love and fear, as we may un- 
derstand from our ordinary attachment to each 
other. No one really loves another, who does 
not feel a certain reverence towards him. When 
friends transgress this sobriety of affection, they 
may indeed continue associates for a time, but 
they have broken the bond of union. It is mutual 
respect which makes friendship lasting. So again, 
in the feelings of inferiors towards superiors. 
Fear must go before love. Till he who has au- 
thority shows he has it and can use it, his for- 
bearance will not be valued duly ; his kindness 
will look like weakness. We learn to contemn 
what we do not fear; and we cannot love what 
we contemn. So in religion also. We cannot 


understand Christ's mercies till we understand 
His power. His glory, His unspeakable holiness, 
and our demerits ; that is, until we first fear Him. 
Not that fear comes first, and then love ; for the 
most part they will proceed together. Fear is 
allayed by the love of Him, and our love sobered 
by our fear of Him. Thus He draws us on with 
encouraging voice amid the terrors of His threat- 
enings. As in the young ruler's case, He loves 
us, yet speaks harshly to us that we may learn 
to cherish mixed feelings towards Him. He hides 
Himself from us, and yet calls us on, that we 
may hear His voice as Samuel did, and, believing, 
approach Him with trembling. This may seem 
strange to those who do not study the Scrip- 
tures, and to those who do not know what it is 
earnestly to seek after God. But in proportion 
as the state of mind is strange, so is there in it, 
therefore, untold and surpassing pleasure to those 
who partake it. The bitter and the sweet, 
strangely tempered, thus leave upon the mind 
the lasting taste of Divine truth, and satisfy it ; 
not so harsh as to be loathed ; nor of that insipid 
sweetness which attends enthusiastic feelings, and 
is wearisome when it becomes familiar. Such 
is the feeling of conscience too, God's original 
gift ; how painful ! yet who would lose it ? "I 
opened my mouth and panted, for I longed for 
Thy commandments ^" This is David's account 

' Psalm cxix. 131. 


of it. Ezekiel describes something of the same 
feeling when the Spirit lifted him up and took 
him away, " and he went in bitterness, in the heat 
of his spirit," " the hand of the Lord" being 
" strong upon him^" 

Now how does this apply to us here assembled ? 
Are we in danger of speaking or thinking of 
Christ irreverently? I do not think we are in 
any immediate danger of deliberate profaneness ; 
but we are in great danger of this, viz. first, of 
allowing ourselves to appear profane, and se- 
condly of gradually becoming irreverent, while 
we are pretending to be so. Men do not begin 
by intending to dishonour God ; but they are 
afraid of the ridicule of others : they are ashamed 
of appearing religious; and thus are led to pre- 
tend that they are worse than they really are. 
They say things which they do not mean ; and, 
by a miserable weakness, allow actions and habits 
to be imputed to them which they dare not really 
indulge in. Hence, they affect a liberty of speech 
which only befits the companions of evil spirits. 
They take God's name in vain, to show that they 
can do what devils do, and they invoke the evil 
spirit, or speak familiarly of all that pertains to 
him, and deal about curses wantonly, as though 
they were not fire-brands, — as if acknowledging 
the Author of Evil to be their great master and 
lord. Yes! he is a master who allows himself 

' Ezek. iii. 14. 
VOL. I. A a 


to be served without trembling. It is his very art 
to lead men to be at ease with him, to think lightly 
of him, and to trifle with him. He will submit to 
their ridicule, take (as it were) their blows, and 
pretend to be their slave, that he may ensnare 
them. He has no dignity to maintain, and he 
waits his time when his malice shall be gratified. 
So it has ever been all over the earth. Among 
all nations it has been his aim to make men laugh 
at him ; going to and fro upon the earth, and 
walking up and down in it, hearing and rejoicing 
in that light perpetual talk about him which is 
his worship. 

Now, it is not to be supposed that all this care- 
less language can be continued without its affect- 
ing a man's heart at last ; and this is the second 
danger I spoke of. Through a false shame, we 
disown religion with our lips, and next our words 
affect our thoughts. Men at last become the 
cold, indifferent, profane characters they professed 
themselves to be. They think contemptuously 
of God's Ministers, Sacraments, and Worship ; 
they slight His word, rarely looking into it, and 
never studying it. They undervalue all religious 
profession, and judging of others by themselves, 
impute the conscientious conduct they witness to 
bad motives. Thus they are in heart infidels ; 
though they may not formally be such, and may 
attempt to disguise their own unbelief under pre- 
tence of objecting to one or other of the doctrines 


or ordinances of religion. And should a time of 
temptation come, when it would be safe to show 
themselves as they really are, they will (almost 
unawares) throw off their profession of Christianity, 
and join themselves to the scoffing world. 

And how must Christians, on the other hand, 
treat such heartless men ? They have our Lord's 
example to imitate. Not that they dare pre- 
cisely follow the conduct of Him who had no 
sin. They dare not assume to themselves any 
honour on their own account ; and they are bound, 
especially if they are His Ministers, to humble 
themselves as the Apostles did, and "going out 
to the highways and hedges, (as it were) compel ^ " 
men to be saved. Yet, while they use greater 
earnestness of entreaty than their Lord, they must 
not forget His dignity the while, who sends them. 
He manifested His love towards us, " in deed and 
in truth," and we. His Ministers, declare it in 
word ; yet for the very reason that it is so abund- 
ant, we must in very gratitude learn reverence 
towards Him. We must not take advantage (so 
to say) of His goodness ; or misuse the powers 
committed to us. Never nmst we solicitously 
press the truth upon those who do not profit by 
what they already possess. It dishonours Christ, 
while it does the scorner harm, not good. It is 
casting pearls before swine. We must wait for 
all opportunities of being useful to men, but be- 
' Luke xiv. 23. 

A a 2 


ware of attempting too much at once. We must 
impart the Scripture doctrines, in measure and 
season, as they can bear them ; not being eager 
to recount them all, rather, hiding them from the 
world. Seldom must we engage in controversy or 
dispute ; for it lowers the sacred truths to make 
them a subject for ordinary debate. Common 
propriety suggests rules like these at once. Who 
would speak freely about some revered friend in 
the presence of those who did not value him ? 
or who would think he could with a few words 
overcome their indifference towards him ? or who 
would hastily dispute about him when his hearers 
had no desire to be made love him ? 

Rather, shunning all intemperate words, let us 
show our light before men by our works. Here 
we must be safe. In doing justice, showing 
mercy, speaking the truth, resisting sin, obeying 
the Church, — in thus glorifying God, there can 
be no irreverence. And, above all, let us look 
at home, check all bad thoughts, presumptuous 
imaginings, vain desires, discontented murmurings, 
self-complacent reflections, and so in our hearts 
ever honour Him in secret, whom we reverence 
by open profession. 

May God guide us in a dangerous world, and 
deliver us from evil. And may He rouse to serious 
thought, by the power of His Spirit, all who are 
living in profaneness or unconcern ! 



Hebrews xii. 28, 29. 

" Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably 
with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming 

In every age of Christianity, since it was first 
preached, there has been what may be called a 
religion of the world, which so far imitates the one 
true religion, as to deceive the unstable and un- 
wary. The world does not oppose religion as such. 
I may say, it never has opposed it. In parti- 
cular, it has, in all ages, acknowledged in one 
sense or other the Gospel of Christ, fastened on 
one or other of its characteristics, and professed 
to embody this in its practice ; while by neglecting 
the other parts of the holy doctrine, it has, in fact, 
distorted and corrupted even that portion of it 
which it has exclusively put forward, and so has 
contrived to explain away the whole ; — for he who 


cultivates only one precept of the Gospel to the 
exclusion of the rest, in reality attends to no part 
at all. Our duties balance each other ; and 
though we are too sinful to perform them all 
perfectly, yet we may in some measure be per- 
forming them all, and preserving the balance on 
the whole ; whereas, to give ourselves only to this 
or that commandment, is to incline our minds in a 
wrong direction, and at length to pull them down 
to the earth, which is the aim of our adversary, 
the devil. 

It is his aim to break our strength ; to force us 
down to the earth, — to bind us there. The world 
is his instrument for this purpose ; but he is too 
wise to set it in open opposition to the Word of 
God. No ! he affects to be a prophet like the 
prophets of God. He calls his servants also pro- 
phets; and they mix with the scattered remnant 
of the true Church, with the solitary Micaiahs 
who are left upon the earth, and speak in the 
name of the Lord. And in one sense they speak 
the truth ; but it is not the whole truth ; and we 
know, even from the common experience of life, 
that half the truth is often the most gross and 
mischievous of falsehoods. 

Even in the first age of the Church, while 
persecution still raged, he set up a counter reli- 
gion among the philosophers of the day, partly 
like Christianity, but in truth a bitter foe to it; 
and it deceived and shipwrecked the faith of 


those who had not the love of God in their 

Time went on, and he devised a second idol of 
the true Christ, and it remained in the temple of 
God for many a year. The age was rude and 
fierce. Satan took the darker side of the Gospel ; 
its awful mysteriousness, its fearful glory, its 
sovereign inflexible justice; and here his picture 
of the truth ended, "God is a consuming fire;" 
so declares the text, and we know it. But we 
know more, viz. that God is love also ; but Satan 
did not add this to his religion, which became one 
of fear. The religion of the world was then a 
fearful religion. Superstitions abounded, and cruel- 
ties. The noble firmness, the graceful austerity 
of the true Christian were superseded by forbidding 
spectres, harsh of eye, and haughty of brow ; and 
these were the patterns or the tyrants of a beguiled 

What is Satan's device in this day ? a far dif- 
ferent one ; but perhaps a more pernicious. I 
will attempt to expose it, or rather to suggest 
some remarks towards its being exposed, by those 
who think it worth while to attempt it ; for the 
subject is too great and too difiicult for an occa- 
sion such as the present, and, after all, no one 
can detect falsehood for another ; — every man 
must do it for himself; we can but help each 

What is the world's religion now ? It has 


taken the brighter side of the Gospel, — its tidings 
of comfort, its precepts of love ; all darker, 
deeper views of man's condition and prospects 
being comparatively forgotten. This is the reli- 
gion natural to a civilized age, and well has 
Satan dressed and completed it into an idol of 
the Truth. As the reason is cultivated, the taste 
formed, the affections and sentiments refined, a 
general decency and grace will of course spread 
over the face of society, quite independently of 
the influence of revelation. That beauty and 
delicacy of thought, which is so attractive in 
books, extends to the conduct of life, to all we 
have, all we do, all we are. Our manners are 
courteous ; we avoid giving pain or offence ; our 
words become correct ; our relative duties are 
carefully performed. Our sense of propriety shows 
itself even in our domestic arrangements, in the 
embellishment of our houses, in our amusements, 
and so also in our religious profession. Vice 
now becomes unseemly and hideous to the ima- 
gination, or, as it is sometimes familiarly said, 
" out of taste." Thus elegance is gradually made 
the test and standard of virtue, which is no longer 
thought to possess intrinsic claim on our hearts, 
or to exist ftirthe?' than it leads to the quiet and 
comfort of others. Conscience is no lonsrer re- 
cognised as an independent arbiter of actions, 
its authority is explained away ; partly it is 
superseded in the minds of men by the so-called 


moral sense, which is regarded merely as the love 
of the beautiful; partly by the rule of expediency, 
which is forthwith substituted for it in the details 
of conduct. Now conscience is a stern, gloomy 
principle ; it tells us of guilt and of prospective 
punishment. Accordingly, when its terrors dis- 
appear, then disappear also, in the creed of the 
day, those fearful images of Divine wrath with 
which the Scriptures abound. They are explained 
away. Every thing is bright and cheerful. Reli- 
gion is pleasant and easy ; benevolence is the 
chief virtue ; intolerance, bigotry, excess of zeal, 
are the first of sins. Austerity is an absurdity ; — 
even firmness is looked on with an unfriendly, 
suspicious eye. On the other hand, all open 
profligacy is discountenanced ; drunkenness is 
accounted a disgrace ; cursing and swearing are 
vulgarities. Moreover, to a cultivated mind, which 
recreates itself in the varieties of literature and 
knowledge, and is interested in the ever-accumu- 
lating discoveries of science, and the ever-fresh 
accessions of information, political or otherwise, 
from foreign countries, religion will commonly 
seem to be dull, from want of novelty. Hence 
excitements are eagerly sought out and rewarded. 
New objects in religion, new systems and plans, 
new doctrines, new preachers, are necessary to 
satisfy that craving which the so-called spread 
of knowledge has created. The mind becomes 
morbidly sensitive and fastidious ; dissatisfied with 


things as they are, desirous of a change as such^ 
as if alteration must of itself be a relief. 

Now I would have you put Christianity for an 
instant out of your thoughts ; and consider whe- 
ther such a state of refinement as I have attempted 
to describe, is not that to which men might be 
brought, quite independent of religion, by the 
mere influence of education and civilization; and 
then again, whether, nevertheless, this mere re- 
finement of mind is not more or less all that is 
called religion at this day. In other words, is it 
not the case, that Satan has so composed and 
dressed out what is the mere natural produce of 
the human heart under certain circumstances, as 
to serve his purposes as the counterfeit of the 
Truth? I do not at all deny that this spirit of 
the world uses words, and makes professions, which 
it would not adopt except for the suggestions of 
Scripture; nor do I deny that it takes a general 
colouring from Christianity, so as really to be 
modified by it, nay, in a measure enlightened and 
exalted by it. Again, I fully grant that many 
persons in whom this bad spirit shows itself, are 
but partially infected by it, and at bottom, good 
Christians, though imperfect. Still, after all, 
here is an existing system, only partially evangeli- 
cal, built upon worldly principle, yet pretending 
to be the Gospel, dropping one whole side of it, 
viz. its austere character, and considering it enough 
to be benevolent, courteous, candid, correct in 


conduct, delicate, —though it has no true fear of 
God, no fervent zeal for His honour, no deep 
hatred of sin, no horror at the sight of sinners, no 
indignation and compassion at the blasphemies of 
heretics, no jealous adherence to doctrinal truth, 
no especial sensitiveness about the particular means 
of gaining ends, provided the ends be good, no 
loyalty to the Holy Apostolic Church, of which 
the Creed speaks, no sense of the authority of reli- 
gion as external to the mind: in a word, no 
seriousness, and therefore is neither hot nor cold, 
but (in Scripture language) lukewarm. Thus the 
present age is the very contrary to what are 
commonly called the dark ages; and together 
with the faults of those ages we have lost their 
virtues. I say their virtues; for even the errors 
then prevalent, a persecuting spirit, for instance, 
fear of religious inquiry, bigotry, these were, after 
all, but perversions and excesses of real virtues, 
such as zeal and reverence; and we, instead of 
limiting and purifying them, have taken them 
away root and branch. Why ? because we have 
not acted from a love of the Truth, but from the 
influence of the Age. The old generation has 
passed, and its character with it ; a new order of 
things has arisen. Human society has a new 
framework, and fosters and developes a new cha- 
racter of mind; and this new character is made 
by the enemy of our souls, to resemble the Chris- 
tian's obedience as near as it may, its likeness 


all the time being but accidental. Meanwhile, the 
Holy Church of God, as from the beginning, con- 
tinues its course heavenward ; despised by the 
world, yet influencing it, partly correcting it, partly 
restraining it, and in some happy cases reclaiming 
its victims, and fixing them firmly and for ever 
within the lines of the faithful host militant here on 
earth, which journeys towards the City of the Great 
King. God give us grace to search our hearts, 
lest we be blinded by the deceitfulness of sin ! 
lest we serve Satan transformed into an Angel 
of light, while we think we are pursuing true 
knowledge; lest, overlooking and ill-treating the 
elect of Christ here, we have to ask that awful 
question at the last day, while the truth is bursting 
upon us, " Lord, when saw we Thee a stranger and 
a prisoner?" when saw we Thy sacred Word and 
Servants despised and oppressed, "and did not 
minister unto Thee' ?" 

Nothing shows more strikingly the power of the 
world's religion, as now described, than to consider 
the very different classes of men M'hom it in- 
fluences. It will be found to extend its sway and 
its teaching both over the professedly religious and 
the irreligious. 

1. Many religious men, rightly or not, have 
long been expecting a millennium of purity and 
peace for the Church. I will not say, whether 

' Matt. XXV. 44. 


or not with reason, for good men may well differ on 
such a subject. But, any how, in the case of 
those who have expected it, it has become a 
temjitation to take up and recognise the world's 
l-eligion as already delineated. They have more 
or less identified their vision of Christ's kingdom 
with the elegance and refinement of mere human 
civilization ; and have hailed every evidence of 
improved decency, every wholesome civil regula- 
tion, every beneficent and enlightened act of state 
policy, as signs of their coming Lord. Bent upon 
achieving their object, an extensive and glorious 
diffusion and profession of the Gospel, they have 
been little solicitous about the means employed. 
They have countenanced and acted with men who 
openly professed unchristian principles. They 
have accepted and defended what they considered 
to be reformations and ameliorations of the exist- 
ing state of things, though injustice must be per- 
petrated in order to effect them, or long cherished 
rules of conduct, indifferent perhaps in their origin 
but consecrated by long usage, must be violated. 
They have sacrificed Truth to expedience. They 
have strangely imagined that bad men were to 
be the immediate instruments of the approaching 
advent of Christ ; and (like the deluded Jews 
not many years since in a foreign country) they 
have taken, if not for their Messiah, (as they did,) 
at least for their Elijah, their reforming Baptist, 
the Herald of the Christ, children of this world. 


and sons of Belial, on whom the anathema of the 
Apostle lies from the beginning, declaring, " If any 
man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be 
Anathema Maran-atha^" 

2. On the other hand, the form of doctrine, 
which I have called the religion of the day, is 
especially adapted to please men of sceptical 
minds, the opposite extreme to those just men- 
tioned, who have never been careful to obey their 
conscience, who cultivate the intellect without 
disciplining the heart, and who allow themselves 
to speculate freely about what religion ought to 
bey without going to Scripture to discover what it 
really is. Some persons of this character almost 
consider religion itself to be an obstacle in the 
advance of our social and political well-being. 
But they know human nature requires it; there- 
fore they select the most rational form of religion 
(so they call it) which they can devise. Others 
are far more seriously disposed, but are corrupted 
by bad example or other cause. But they all 
discard (what they call) gloomy views of religion ; 
they all trust themselves more than God's word, 
and thus may be classed together ; and are ready 
to embrace the pleasant consoling religion natural 
to a polished age. They lay much stress on 
works on Natural Theology^ and think that all 
religion is contained in these; whereas, in truth, 

» 1 Cor. xvi. 22. 


there is no greater fallacy than to suppose such 
works in themselves in any true sense to be reli- 
gious at all. Religion, it has been well observed, 
is something relative to us ; a system of com- 
mands and promises from God towards us. But 
how are we concerned with the sun, moon, and 
stars ? or with the laws of the universe ? how- 
will they teach us our duty ? how will they speak 
to sinners f They do not speak to sinners at all. 
They were created hefwe Adam fell. They 
" declare the glory of God," but not His will. 
They are all perfect, all harmonious ; but that 
brightness and excellence which they exhibit in 
their own creation, and the Divine benevolence 
therein seen, are of little moment to fallen man. 
We see nothing there of God's wrath, of which 
the conscience of a sinner loudly speaks. So 
that there cannot be a more dangerous (though 
a common) device of Satan, than to carry us off 
from our own secret thoughts, to make us forget 
our own hearts, which tell us of a God of justice 
and holiness, and to fix our attention merely on the 
God who made the heavens; who is owr God in- 
deed, but not God as manifested to us sinners, but 
as He shines forth to His Angels, and to His elect 

When a man has so far deceived himself as to 
trust his destiny to what the heavens tell him of 
it, instead of consulting and obeying his con- 
science, what is the consequence? that at once 


he misinterprets and perverts the whole tenor of 
Scripture. It cannot be denied that, pleasant as 
religious observances are declared in Scripture to 
be to the holy, yet to men in general they are 
said to be difficult and distasteful ; to all men 
naturally impossible, and by few fulfilled even 
with the assistances of grace, on account of their 
wilful corruption. Religion is said to be against 
nature, to be against our original will, to require 
God's aid to make us love and obey it, and to be 
commonly refused and opposed in spite of that 
aid. We are expressly told, that " strait is 
the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, 
and few there be that find it;" that we must 
" strive " or struggle " to enter in at the strait gate," 
for that "many shall seek to enter in," but that 
is not enough, they merely seek and do not 
find it ; and further, that they who do not obtain 
everlasting life, " shall go into everlasting punish- 
ment'." This is the dark side of religion; and 
the men I have been describing cannot bear to 
think of it. They shrink from it as too terrible. 
They easily get themselves to believe that those 
strong declarations of Scripture do not belong to 
the present day, or that they are figurative. 
They have no language within their heart re- 
sponding to them. Conscience has been silenced. 
The only information they have received con- 

* Matt. vii. 14. Luke xiii. 24. Matt. xxv. 46. 



cerning God has been from Natural Theology, and 
that speaks only of benevolence and harmony ; 
so they will not credit the plain word of Scripture. 
They seize on such parts of Scripture as seem to 
countenance their own opinions ; they insist on 
its being commanded us to " rejoice evermore ;" 
and they argue that it is our duty to solace our- 
selves here (in moderation of course,) with the 
goods of this life, — that we have only to be thank- 
ful while we use them, — that we need not alarm 
ourselves, — that God is a merciful God, — that 
repentance is quite sufficient to atone for our 
offences, — that though we have been irregular 
in our youth, yet that is a thing gone by, — that 
we forget it, and therefore God forgets it, — that 
the world is, on the whole, very well disposed 
towards religion, — that we should avoid enthu- 
siasm, — that we should not be over serious, — that 
we should have enlarged views on the subject of 
human nature, — and that we should love all men. 
This indeed is the creed of shallow men, in every 
age, who reason a little, and feel not at all, and 
who think themselves enlightened and philoso- 
phical. Part of what they say is false, part is true, 
but misapplied ; but why I have noticed it here, is 
to show how exactly it fits in vrith what I have 
already described as the peculiar religion of a civi- 
lized age; it fits in with it equally well as does 
that of the (so called) religious world, which is the 
opposite extreme. 

VOL. I. B b 


One further remark I will make about these 
professedly rational Cliristians ; who, be it observed, 
often go on to deny the mysteries of the Gospel. 
Let us take the text : — " Our God is a consuming 
fire." Now supposing these persons fell upon these 
words, or heard them urged as an argument against 
their own doctrine of the unmixed satisfactory 
character of our prospects in the world to come, 
and supposing they did not know what part of the 
Bible they occurred in, what would they say ? 
Doubtless they would confidently say that they 
applied only to the Jews and not to Christians; 
that they only described the Divine Author of 
the Mosaic Law ^ ; that God formerly spoke in 
terrors to the Jews, because they were a gross and 
brutish people, but that civilization has made us 
quite other men ; that our reason, not our fears, 
is appealed to, and that the Gospel is love. And 
yet, in spite of all this argument, the text occurs 
in the Epistle to the Hebrews, written by an 
Apostle of Christ. 

I shall conclude with stating more fully what 
I mean by the dark side of religion ; and what 
judgment ought to be passed on the superstitious 
and gloomy. 

Here I will not shrink from uttering my firm 
-conviction, that it would be a gain to this country, 
were it vastly more superstitious, more bigoted, 

' Dent. iv. 24. 


more gloomy, more fierce in its religion, than at 
present it shows itself to be. Not, of course, that 
I think the tempers of mind herein irapHed desir- 
able, which would be an evident absurdity ; but I 
think them infinitely more desirable and more 
promising than a heathen obduracy, and a cold, 
self-sufficient, self-wise tranquillity. Doubtless, 
peace of mind, a quiet conscience, and a cheerful 
countenance are the gift of the Gospel, and the 
sign of a Christian ; but the same effects (or, 
rather, what appear to be the same) may arise 
from very different causes. Jonah slept in the 
storm, — so did our Blessed Lord. The one slept 
in an evil security : the Other in the " peace of 
God which passeth all understanding." The two 
states cannot be confounded together, they are 
perfectly distinct ; and as distinct is the calm of 
the man of the world from that of the Christian. 
Now take the case of the sailors on board the ves- 
sel ; they cried to Jonah, " What meanest thou, O 
sleeper ? " — so the Apostles said to Christ ; " Lord, 
we perish." This is the case of the superstitious ; 
they go between the false peace of Jonah and the 
true peace of Christ ; they are better than the one, 
though far below the Other. Applying this to the 
present religion of the educated world, full as it 
is of security and cheerfulness, and decorum, and 
benevolence, I observe that these appearances 
may arise either from a great deal of religion, or 
from the absence of it ; they may be the fruits of 




lightness of mind and a blinded conscience, or of 
that faith which has peace with God through our 
Lord Jesus Christ. And if this alternative be 
proposed, I might almost leave it to the common 
sense of men, (if they could get themselves to 
think seriously) to which of the two the temper 
of the age is to be referred. For myself I cannot 
doubt, seeing what I see of the world, that it 
arises from the sleep of Jonah ; and it is there- 
fore but a dream of religion, far inferior in worth 
to the well grounded alarm of the superstitious, 
who are awakened and see their danger, though 
they do not attain so far in faith as to embrace the 
remedy of it. 

Think of this, I beseech you, my brethren, and 
lay it to heart, as far as you go with me, as 
you will answer for having heard it at the last 
day. I would not willingly be harsh ; but know- 
ing " that the world lieth in wickedness," I think 
it highly probable that you, so far as you are in 
it, (as you must be, and we all must be in our 
degree,) are, most of you, partially infected with 
its existing error, that shallowness of religion, 
which is the result of a blinded conscience ; and, 
therefore, I speak earnestly to you. Believing in 
the existence of a general plague in the land, I 
judge that you probably have your share in the 
sufferings, the voluntary sufferings, which it is 
spreading among us. The fear of God is the 
beginning of wisdom ; till you see Him to be a 


consuming fire, and approach Him with reverence 
and godly fear, as being sinners, you are not 
even in sight of the strait gate. I do not wish 
you to be able to point to any particular time 
when you renounced the world (as it is called), 
and were converted; this is a deceit. Fear and 
love must go together; always fear, always love, 
to your dying day. Doubtless ; — still you must 
know what it is to sow in tears here, if you would 
reap in joy hereafter. Till you know the weight 
of your sins, and that not in mere imagination, 
but in practice, not so as merely to confess it in a 
formal phrase of lamentation, but daily and in 
your heart in secret, you cannot embrace the 
offer of mercy held out to you in the Gospel, 
through the death of Christ. Till you know what 
it is to fear with the terrified sailors or the 
Apostles, you cannot sleep with Christ at your 
Heavenly Father's feet. Miserable as were the 
superstitions of the dark ages, revolting as are the 
tortures now in use among the heathen of the 
East, better, far better is it, to torture the body 
all one's days, and to make this life a hell upon 
earth, than to remain in a brief tranquillity here, 
till the pit at length opens under us, and awakens 
us to an eternal fruitless consciousness and re- 
morse. Think of Christ's own words : — *' What 
shall a man give in exchange for his soul ? " 
Again, He says, " Fear Him, who after He hath 
killed, hath power to cast into hell ; yea, I say 


unto you, fear Him." Dare not to think you 
have got to the bottom of your hearts ; you do not 
know what evil lies there. How long and earn- 
estly must you pray, how many years must you 
pass in careful obedience, before you have any 
right to lay aside sorrow, and to rejoice in the 
Lord ? In one sense, indeed, you may take com- 
fort from the first; for, though you dare not yet 
anticipate you are in the number of Christ's true 
elect, yet from the first you know He desires 
your salvation, has died for you, has washed away 
your sins by baptism, and will ever help you ; 
and this thought must cheer you while you go 
on to examine and review your lives, and to turn 
to God in self-denial. But, at the same time, 
you never can be sure of salvation, while you are 
here ; and therefore you must always fear while 
you hope. Your knowledge of your sins increases 
with your view of God's mercy in Christ. And 
this is the true Christian state, and the nearest 
approach to Christ's calm and placid sleep in 
the tempest; — not perfect joy and certainty in 
heaven, but a deep resignation to God's will, 
a surrender of ourselves, soul and body, to Him ; 
hoping indeed, that we shall be saved, but fixing 
our eyes more earnestly on Him than on our- 
selves ; that is, acting for His glory, seeking to 
please Him, devoting ourselves to Him in all 
manly obedience and strenuous good works ; and, 
when we do look within, thinking of ourselves 



with a certain abhorrence and contempt as being- 
sinners, mortifying our flesh, scourging our appe- 
tites, and composedly awaiting that time when, 
if we be worthy, we shall be stripped of our 
present selves, and new made in the kingdom of 



John v. 2, 3. 

" There is at Jerusalem by the sheepmarket a pool, which is 
called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 
In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, 
halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water." 

What a scene of misery this pool of Bethesda 
must have presented ! of pain and sickness tri- 
umphing unto death; the "blind, halt, withered, 
and impotent," persuaded by the hope of cure to 
disclose their sufferings in the eye of day in one 
large company. This pool was endued, at cer- 
tain times, with a wonderful virtue by the descent 
of an Angel into it, so that its waters effected 
the cure of the first who stepped into it, whatever 
was his disease. However, I shall not speak of 
this wonderful pool ; nor of our Saviour's miracle, 
wrought there upon the man who had no one 
to put him in before the rest, when the water 


was troubled, and had been for thirty -eight years 
afflicted with his infirmity. Without entering into 
these subjects, let us take the text as it stands in 
the opening of the chapter which contains it, and 
deduce a lesson from it. 

There lay about the pool " a great multitude 
of impotent folk, of blind, halt, and withered." 
This is a painful picture, such as we do not like 
to dwell upon, — a picture of a chief kind of human 
suffering, bodily disease ; one which suggests to 
us and typifies all other suffering, — the most 
obvious fulfilment of that curse which Adam's 
fall brought upon his descendants. Now it must 
strike every one who thinks at all about it, that 
the Bible is full of such descriptions of human 
misery. We know it also abounds in accounts of 
human sin ; but not to speak of these, it abounds 
in accounts of human distress and sufferings, of 
our miserable condition, of the vanity, unprofit- 
ableness, and trials of life. The Bible begins 
with the history of the curse pronounced on the 
earth and man ; it ends with the book of Revela- 
tions, a portion of Scripture fearful for its threats, 
and its prediction of judgments ; and whether the 
original curse on Adam be now removed from the 
world or not, it is certain that God's awful curses, 
foretold by St. John, are on all sides of us. 
Surely, in spite of the peculiar promises made to 
the Church in Christ our Saviour, yet as regards 
the world, the volume of inspiration is still a 


dreary record, " written within and without with 
lamentations, and mourning, and woe." And fur- 
ther, you will observe that it seems to drop what 
might be said in favour of this life, and en- 
larges on the unpleasant side of it. The history 
passes quickly from the Garden of Eden, to dwell 
on the sufferings which followed, when our first 
parents were expelled thence ; and though, in 
matter of fact, there are traces of paradise still 
left among us, yet it is evident. Scripture says 
little of them in comparison of its accounts of 
human misery. Little does it say concerning the 
innocent pleasures of life ; of those temporal 
blessings which rest upon our worldly occupa- 
tions, and make them easy ; of the blessings 
which we derive from " the sun and moon, and 
the everlasting hills," from the succession of the 
seasons and the produce of the earth ; — little 
about our recreations and our daily domestic 
comforts; — little about the ordinary occasions of 
festivity and mirth which occur in life, and 
nothing at all about those various other enjoy- 
ments which it would be going too much into 
detail to mention. Human tales and poems are 
full of pleasant sights and prospects ; — they make 
things better than they are, and pourtray a sort 
of imaginary perfection ; but Scripture (I repeat) 
seems to abstain even from what might be said in 
praise of human life as it is. We read, indeed, 
of the feast made when Isaac was weaned, of 


Jacob's marriage, of the domestic and religious 
festivities of Job's family; but these are excep- 
tions in the tenor of the Scripture history. " Va- 
nity of vanities, all is vanity;" "man is born to 
trouble :" these are its customary lessons. The text 
is but a specimen of the descriptions repeated again 
and again throughout Scripture, of human infirmity 
and misery. 

So much is this the case, that thoughtless per- 
sons are averse to the Scripture narrative for this 
very reason. I do not mean bad men, who speak 
hard presumptuous words against the Bible, and 
in consequence expose themselves to the wrath 
of God; but I speak of thoughiless persons; and 
of these there are many, who consider the Bible 
a gloomy book, and on that account seldom look 
into it, saying that it makes them melancholy. 
Accordingly, there have been attempts made on 
the other hand to hide this austere character of 
Scripture, and make it a bright interesting picture 
of human life. Its stories have before now been 
profanely embellished in human language, to suit 
the taste of weak and cowardly minds. All this 
shows, that in the common opinion of mankind, the 
Bible does not take a pleasant sunshine view of the 

Now why have I thus spoken of this general 
character of the sacred history ? — in order to 
countenance those who complain of it? — let it 
not be imagined ; — far from it. God does nothing 


without some wise and good reason, which it 
becomes us devoutly to accept and use. He has 
not given us this dark view of the world without 
a cause. In truth, this view is the ultimate triLe 
view of human life. But this is not all; it is a 
view which it concerns us much to know. It 
concerns us (I say) much to be told that this 
world is, after all, in spite of first appearances and 
partial exceptions, a dark world; else we shall 
be obliged to learn it (and, sooner or later, we 
must learn it,) by sad ej?perience; whereas, if we 
are forewarned, we shall unlearn false notions of 
its excellence, and be saved the disappointment 
which follows them. And therefore it is that 
Scripture omits even what might be said in praise 
of this world's pleasures ; — not denying their 
value, such as it is, or forbidding us to use 
them religiously, but knowing that we are sure to 
find them out for ourselves without being told of 
them, and that our danger is on the side, not of 
undervaluing, but of overvaluing them ; whereas, 
by being told of the world's vanity, at first, we 
shall learn, (what else we should only attain at 
last,) not indeed to be gloomy and discontented, 
but to bear a sober and calm heart under a 
smiling cheerful countenance. This is one chief 
reason of the solemn character of the Scripture 
history; and if we keep it in view, so far from 
being oifended and frightened away by its notes 
of sorrow, because they grate on the ear at first, 


we shall steadfastly listen to them, and get them by 
heart, as a gracious gift from God sent to us, as a 
remedy for all dangerous overflowing joy in present 
blessings, in order to save us far greater pain, (if we 
use the lesson well,) the pain of actual disappoint- 
ment, such as the overthrow of vainly cherished 
hopes of lasting good upon earth, will certainly 

Do but consider what is the consequence of 
ignorance or distrust of God's warning voice, and 
you will see clearly how mercifiil He is, and how 
wise it is to listen to Him. I will not suppose a 
case of gross sin, or of open contempt for religion ; 
but let a man have a general becoming reverence 
for the law and Church of God, and an unhesi- 
tating faith in his Saviour Christ, yet suppose 
him so to be taken with the goods of this world, 
as (without his being aware of it) to give his 
heart to them. Let him have many good feel- 
ings and dispositions; but let him love his 
earthly pursuits, amusements, friends, too well; — 
by which I mean, so well as to forget that he is 
bound to live in the spirit of Abraham's faith, 
who gave up home, kindred, possessions, all his 
eye ever loved, at God's word, — in the spirit of 
St. Paul's faith, who "counted all things but 
loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ 
Jesus his Lord," to win whose favour " he suffered 
the loss of all things." How will the world go 
with a man thus forgetful of his real interests? 


For a while all will be enjoyment ; — if at any time 
weariness comes, he will be able to change his 
pleasure, and the variety will relieve him. His 
health is good and his spirits high, and easily 
master and bear down all the accidental troubles 
of life. So far is well : but, as years roll on, by 
little and little he will discover that, after all, he 
is not, as he imagined, possessed of any real sub- 
stantial good. He will begin to find, and be 
startled at finding, that the things which once 
pleased, please less and less, or not at all. He 
will be unable to recall those lively emotions in 
which he once indulged; and he will wonder 
why. Thus, by degrees, the delightful visions 
which surrounded him will fade away, and in 
their stead, melancholy forms will haunt him, 
such as crowded round the pool of Bethesda. 
Then will be fulfilled the words of the wise man. 
The days will have come, " when thou shalt say, 
I have no pleasure in them ; the sun and the 
light and the moon and the stars shall be dark- 
ened, and the clouds return after the rain ; then 
they who look out of the window shall be dark- 
ened, the doors shall be shut in the streets, all 
the daughters of music shall be brought low, 
fears shall be in the way, and desire shall fail'." 
Then a man will begin to be restless and dis- 
contented, for he does not know how to amuse 

• Eccles. xii. 1 — 5. 


himself. Before, he was cheerful only from the 
natural flow of his spirits, and when such cheer- 
fulness is lost with increasing years, he becomes 
evil-natured. He has made no effort to change 
his heart, — to raise, strengthen, and purify his 
faith, — to subdue his bad passions and tempers. 
Now their day is come; they have sprung up 
and begin to domineer. When he was in health, 
he thought about his farm, or his merchandise, 
and lived to himself; he laid out his strength on 
the world, and the world is nothing to him, as a 
worthless bargain (so to say), seeing it is nothing 
worth to one who cannot take pleasure in it. 
He had no habitual thought of God in the former 
time, however he might have a general reverence 
for His name ; and now he dreads Him, or (if the 
truth must be said) even begins to hate the 
thought of Him. Where shall he look for suc- 
cour ? Perhaps, moreover, he is a burden to those 
around him ; they care not for him, — he is in 
their way. And so he will lie year after year, 
by the pool of Bethesda, by the waters of health, 
with no one helping him; — unable to advance 
himself towards a cure, in consequence of his 
long habits of sin, and others passing him by, 
perhaps unable to help one who obstinately refuses 
to be comforted. Thus he has at length full per- 
sonal, painful experience, that this world is really 
vanity or worse, and all this because he would 
not believe it from Scripture. 


Now should the above description appear over- 
charged, should it be said that it supposes a man 
to be possessed of more of the pleasures of life 
than most men have, and of keener feelings, — 
should it be said that most men have little to 
enjoy, and that most of those vrho have much 
go on in an ordinary tranquil way, and take and 
lose things without much thought, not pleased 
much in their vigorous days, and not caring much 
about the change when the world deserts them, — 
then I must proceed to a more solemn considera- 
tion still, on which I do not like to dwell, but 
would rather leave it for your own private reflec- 
tion upon it. There is a story in the Gospels of a 
man who was taken out of this life before he had 
turned his thoughts heaven-ward, and in another 
world he lift up his eyes being in torments. Be 
quite sure that every one of us, even the poorest 
and the most dull and insensible, is far more 
attached to this world than he can possibly ima- 
gine. We get used to the things about us, and 
forget they are necessary for our comfort. Every 
one, when taken out of this world, would miss a 
great deal that he was used to depend on, and 
would in consequence be in great discomfort and 
sorrow in his new abode, as a stranger in an un- 
known place; every one, that is, who had not, 
while on earth, made God his Father and Pro- 
tector, — that Great God who alone will there be 
found. We do not, then, mend the matter at all 


in supposing a man not to find out the world's 
vanity here ; for, even should the world remain 
his faithful friend, and please him with its goods, 
to his dying day, still that world will be burnt 
up at the day of his resurrection ; and even had 
he little of its comforts here, that little he will 
then miss. Then all men, small and great, will 
know it to be vanity, and feel their infinite loss if 
they have trusted it, when all the dead stand 
before God. 

Let this suffice on the use we must make of the 
solemn view which the Scripture takes of this life. 
Those disclosures are intended to save us pain, by 
preventing us enjoying the world unreservedly ; 
that we may use it as not abusing it. 

Nor let it seem as if this view of life must 
make a man melancholy and gloomy. There are, 
it is true, men of ill-constituted minds, whom it 
has driven out of the world ; but, rightly under- 
stood, it has no such tendency. The great rule of 
our conduct is to take things as they come. He 
who goes out of his way as shrinking from the 
varieties of human life which meet him, has weak 
faith, or a strangely perverted conscience, — he 
wants elevation of mind. The true Christian re- 
joices in those earthly things which give joy, but 
in such a way as not to care for them when they 
go. For no blessings does he care much, except 
those which are immortal, knowing that he shall 
receive all such again in the world to come. But 

VOL. I. c c 


the least and the most fleeting, he is too religious 
to contemn, considering them God's gift ; and the 
least and most fleeting, thus received, yield a purer 
and deeper, though a less tumultuous joy. And 
if he at times refrains, it is lest he should encroach 
upon God's bounty, or lest by a constant use of it 
he should forget how to do without it. 

Our Saviour gives us a pattern which we are 
bound to follow. He was a far greater than John 
the Baptist, yet He came, not with St. John's out- 
ward austerity, — condemning the display of strict- 
ness or gloominess, that we, His followers, might 
fast the more in private, and be the more austere 
in our secret hearts. True it is, that such 'self- 
command, composure, and inward faith, are not 
learned in a day ; but if they were, why should 
this life be given us ? It is given us as a very pre- 
paration time for obtaining them. Only look upon 
the world in this light ; — its sights of sorrows are 
to calm you, and its pleasant sights to try you. 
There is a bravery in thus going straightforward, 
shrinking from no duty little or great, passing 
from high to low, from pleasure to pain, and 
making your principles strong without their be- 
coming formal. Learn to be as the Angel, who 
could descend among the miseries of Bethesda, 
without losing his heavenly purity or his perfect 
happiness. Gain healing from troubled waters. 
Make up your mind to the prospect of sustaining 
a certain measure of pain and trouble in your 


passage through life ; by the blessing of God this 
will prepare you for it, — it will make you thought- 
ful and resigned without interfering with your cheer- 
fulness. It will connect you in your own thoughts 
with the Saints of Scripture, whose lot it was to 
be patterns of patient endurance ; and this asso- 
ciation brings to the mind a peculiar consolation. 
View yourselves and all Christians as humbly 
following the steps of Jacob, whose days were few 
and evil ; and David, who in his best estate was as 
a shadow that declineth, and was withered like 
grass; and Elijah, who despised soft raiment and 
sumptuous fare; and forlorn Daniel, who led an 
Angel's life; and be lighthearted and contented, 
because you are thus called to be a member of 
Christ's pilgrim Church. Realize the paradox 
of making merry and rejoicing in the world be- 
cause it is not your's. And if you are hard to be 
affected, (as many men are,) and think too little 
about the changes of life, going on in a dull way 
without hope or fear, feeling neither your need nor 
the excellence of religion ; then, again, meditate 
on the mournful histories recorded in Scripture, in 
order that your hearts may be opened thereby 
and roused. Read the Gospels in particular ; you 
there find accounts of sick and afflicted persons 
in every page as mementos. Above all, you there 
read of Christ's sufferings, which I am not now 
called upon to speak of; but the thought of which 
is far more than enough to make the world, bright 

c c 2 


as it may be, look dark and miserable in itself to 
all true believers, even if the record of them were 
the only sorrowful part of the whole Bible. 

And now I conclude, bidding you think much 
of the Scripture history in the light in which I have 
put it, — that you may not hereafter find that you 
have missed one great benefit which it was gra- 
ciously intended to convey. 



1 Cor. xiii. 11. 

" When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a 
child, I thought as a child ; but when I became a man, 1 
put away childish things." 

When our Lord was going to leave the world 
and return to His Father, He called His disciples 
orphans ; children, as it were, whom He had been 
rearing, who were still unable to direct them- 
selves, and who were soon to lose their Protector ; 
but He said, " I will not leave you comfortless 
orphans, I will come to you^ ;" meaning to say, 
He would come again to them in the power of 
His Holy Spirit, who should be their present all- 
sufficient Guide, though He Himself was away. 
And we know, from the sacred history, that when 
the Holy Spirit came, they ceased to be the de- 
fenceless children they had been before. He 

* John xiv. 18. 


breathed into them a divine life, and gifted them 
with spiritual manhood, or 'perfection, as it is called 
in Scripture. From that time forth, they put away 
childish things : they spake, they understood, they 
thought, as those who had been taught to govern 
themselves ; and who, having " an unction from the 
Holy One, knew all things." 

That such a change was wrought in the Apos- 
tles, according to Christ's promise, is evident from 
comparing their conduct before the day of Pente- 
cost, when the Holy Spirit descended on them, 
and after. I need not enlarge on their wonderful 
firmness and zeal in their Master's cause after- 
wards. On the other hand, it is plain from the 
Gospels, that before the Holy Ghost came down, 
that is, while Christ was still with them, they 
were as helpless and ignorant as children ; had no 
clear notion what they ought to seek after, and 
how, and were carried astray by their accidental 
feelings and their long-cherished prejudices. — 
What was it but to act the child, to ask how 
many, times a fellow-Christian should offend against 
us, and we forgive him, as St. Peter did ? or . to 
ask to see the Father, with St. Philip ? or to 
propose to build tabernacles on the mount, as if 
they were not to return to the troubles of the 
world? or to dispute who should be the greatest' ? 
or to look for Christ's restoring at that time the 

* Matt. xvii. 4 ; xviii. 21 ; xx. 20. John xiv. 8. 


temporal kingdom to Israel ^ ? Natural as such 
views were in the case of half-instructed Jews, they 
were evidently unworthy those whom Christ had 
made His, that He might " present them perfect" 
before the throne of God. 

Yet the first disciples of Christ at least put off 
their vanities once for all, when the Spirit came 
upon them ; but as to ourselves, the Spirit has long 
since been poured upon us, even from our earliest 
years ; yet it is a serious question, whether multi- 
tudes of us, even of those among us who make a 
profession of religion, are even so far advanced in 
a knowledge of the Truth as the Apostles were 
before the day of Pentecost. It may be a profit- 
able employment to-day to consider this question, 
as suggested by the text, — to inquire how far we 
have proceeded in putting off* such childish things 
as are inconsistent with a manly, honest profession 
of the Gospel. 

Now, observe, I am not enquiring whether we 
are plainly living in sin, in wilful disobedience; 
nor even whether we are yielding through thought- 
lessness to sinful practices and habits. The con- 
dition of those who act against their conscience, or 
who act without conscience, that is, lightly and 
carelessly, is far indeed from bearing any resem- 
blance to that of the Apostles in the years of their 
early discipleship. I am supposing you, my bre- 

' Acts i. 6. 


tliren, to be on the whole followers of Christ, to 
profess to obey Him ; and I address you as those 
who seem to themselves to have a fair hope of 
salvation. I am directing your attention, not to 
your sins, not to those faults and failings which 
you know to be such, and are trying to conquer, 
as being confessedly evil in themselves, but to 
such of your views, wishes, and tastes, as resemble 
those which the Apostles cherished, true believers 
as they were, before they attained their manhood 
in the Gospel : and I ask, how far you have dis- 
missed these from your minds as vain and trifling ; 
that is, how far you have made what St. Paul in 
the text seems to consider the first step in the true 
spiritual course of a Christian, on whom the Holy 
Ghost has descended. 

1. For example, Let us consider our love of the 
pleasures of life. I am willing to allow there is an 
innocent love of the world, innocent in itself. God 
made the world, and has sanctioned the general 
form of human society, and has given us abun- 
dant pleasures in it ; I do not say lasting pleasures, 
but still, while they last, really pleasures. It 
is natural that the young should look with hope 
to the prospect before them. They cannot help 
forming schemes what they will do when they 
come into active life, or what they should wish 
to be had they their choice. They indulge them- 
selves in fancyings about the future, which they 
know at the time cannot come true. At other 


times they confine themselves to what is possible ; 
and then their hearts burn, while they dream of 
quiet happiness, domestic comfort, independence. 
Or, with bolder views, they push forward their 
fortunes into public life, and indulge ambitious 
hopes. They fancy themselves rising in the world, 
distinguished, courted, admired ; securing influence 
over others, and rewarded with high station. James 
and John had such a dream when they besought 
Christ that they might sit at His side in the most 
honourable places in His kingdom. 

Now such dreams can hardly be called sinful 
in themselves, and without reference to the par- 
ticular case ; for the gifts of wealth, power, and 
influence, and much more of domestic comfort, 
come from God, and may be religiously improved. 
But, though not directly censurable, they are child- 
ish ; childish either in themselves, or at least when 
cherished and indulged ; childish in a Chris- 
tian, who has infinitely higher views to engross 
his mind ; and, as being childish, excusable only 
in the young. They are an offence when retained 
as life goes on ; but in the young we may regard 
them after the pattern of our Saviour's judgment 
upon the young man who was rich and noble. 
He is said to have "loved him;" pitying (that 
is) and not harshly denouncing the anticipations 
which he had formed of happiness from wealth 
and power, yet withal not concealing from him 
the sacrifice of all these which he must make. 


" if he would be perfect," that is, a man, and not a 
mere child in the Gospel. 

2. But there are other childish views and 
habits besides, which must be put off while we 
take on ourselves the full profession of a Chris- 
tian ; and these, not so free from intrinsic guilt as 
those which have been already noticed ; — such as 
the love of display, greediness of the world's 
praise, and the love of the comforts and luxuries 
of life. These, though wrong tempers of mind, 
still I do not now call by their hardest names, 
because I would lead persons, if I could, rather to 
turn away from them as unworthy a Christian, 
with a sort of contempt, outgrowing them as they 
grow in grace, and laying them aside as a matter of 
course, while they are gradually learning to "set 
their affections on things above, not on things on 
the earth." 

Children have evil tempers and idle ways which 
we do not deign to speak seriously of. Not that 
we, in any degree, approve them or endure them 
on their own account ; nay, we punish some of 
them ; but we bear them in children, and look 
for their disappearing as the mind becomes more 
mature. And so in reliofious matters there are 
many habits and views, which we bear with in 
the unformed Christian, but which we account 
disgraceful and contemptible should they survive 
that time when a man's character may be sup- 
posed to be settled. Love of display is one of 


these; whether we are vain of our abilities, or 
our acquirements, or our wealth, or our personal 
appearance ; whether we discover our weakness 
in talking much, or love of managing, or again in 
love of dress. Vanity, indeed, and conceit are 
always disagreeable, for the reason that they in- 
terfere with the comfort of other persons, and vex 
them ; but I am here observing, that they are 
in themselves odious, when discerned in those who 
enjoy the full privileges of the Church, and are 
by profession men in Christ Jesus, odious from 
their inconsistency with Christian faith and earn- 

And so with respect to the love of worldly 
comforts and luxuries, (which, unhappily, often 
grows upon us rather than disappears from our 
character,) whether or not it be natural in youth, 
at least, it is (if I may so say,) shocking in those 
who profess to be " perfect," if we would estimate 
things aright ; and this from its great incon- 
gruity with the spirit of the Gospel. Is it not 
something beyond measure strange and mon- 
strous, (if we could train our hearts to possess a 
right judgment in all things,) to profess that our 
treasure is not here, but in heaven with Him who 
is ascended thither, and to own that we have a 
cross to bear after Him, who first suffered before 
He triumphed ; and yet to set ourselves deliberately 
to study our own comfort as some great and suf- 
ficient end, to go much out of our way to promote 
it, to sacrifice any thing considerable to guard it, 


and to be downcast at the prospect of the loss of 
it? Is it possible for a true son of the Church 
militant, while " the ark, and Israel, and Judah 
abide in tents," and the "servants of his Lord 
are encamped in the open field," to " eat and 
drink" securely, to wrap himself in the furniture 
of wealth, to feed his eyes with the " pride of life," 
and complete for himself the measure of this 
world's elegancies ? 

Again, all timidity, irresolution, fear of ridicule, 
weakness of purpose, such as the Apostles showed 
when they deserted Christ, and Peter especially 
when he denied Him, are to be numbered among 
the tempers of mind which are childish as well as 
sinful ; which we must learn to despise, — to be 
ashamed at ourselves if we are influenced by them, 
and, instead of thinking the conquest of them a 
great thing, to account it as one of the very first 
steps towards being but an ordinary true believer ; 
just as the Apostles, in spite of their former dis- 
cipleship, only commenced (surely) their Christian 
course at the day of Pentecost, and then took to 
themselves a good measure of faith, boldness, zeal, 
and self-mastery, not as some great proficiency and 
as a boast, but as the very condition of their being 
Christians at all, as the elements of spiritual life, 
as a mere outfitting, and a small attainment indeed 
in that extended course of sanctification through 
which the Blessed Spirit is willing to lead every 

Now in this last remark I have given a chief 


reason for dwelling on the subject before us. It 
is very common for Christians to make much of 
what are but petty services ; first to place the 
very substance of religious obedience in a few 
meagre observances, or particular moral precepts 
which are easily complied with, and which they 
think fit to call giving up the world ; and then to 
make a great vaunting about their having done 
what, in truth, every one who is not a mere child 
in Christ ought to be able to do, to congratulate 
themselves upon their success, ostentatiously to 
return thanks for it, to condemn others who do not 
happen to move exactly along the very same line 
of minute practices in detail which they have 
adopted, and in consequence to forget that, after 
all, by such poor obedience, right though it be, 
still they have not approached even to a distant 
view of that point in their Christian course, at 
which they may consider themselves, in St. Paul's 
words, to have "attained" a sure hope of salva- 
tion ; just as little children, when they first have 
strength to move their limbs, triumph in every 
exertion of their newly acquired power, as in 
some great victory. To put off idle hopes of 
earthly good, to be sick of flattery and the world's 
praise, to see the emptiness of temporal greatness, 
and to be watchful against self-indulgence ; these 
are but the beginnings of religion, these are but 
the preparation of heart, which religious earnest- 
ness implies ; without a good share of them, how 
can a Christian move a step? How could Abra- 


ham, when called of God, have even set out from 
his native place, unless he had left off to think 
much of this world, and cared not for its ridicule ? 
Surely these attainments are but our first manly 
robe, showing that childhood is gone ; and, if we 
feel the love and fear of the world still active 
within our hearts, deeply must we be humbled, 
yes, and alarmed ; and humbled even though but 
the traces remain of former weaknesses. But 
even if otherwise, what thank have we ? See 
what the Apostles were, by way of contrast, and 
then you will see what is the true life of the 
Spirit, the substance and full fruit of holiness. 
To love our brethren with a resolution which no 
obstacles can overcome, so as almost to consent 
to an anathema on ourselves, if so be we may 
save those who hate us, — to labour in God's cause 
against hope, and in the midst of sufferings, — to 
read the events of life, as they occur, by the 
interpretation which Scripture gives them, and 
that, not as if the language were strange to us, 
but to do it promptly, — to perform all our relative 
daily duties most watchfully, — to check every 
evil thought, and bring the whole mind into cap- 
tivity to the law of Christ, — to be patient, cheer- 
ful, forgiving, meek, honest, and true, — to perse- 
vere in this good work till death, making fresh and 
fresh advances towards perfection, — and after all, 
even to the end, to confess ourselves unprofitable 
servants, nay, to feel ourselves corrupt and sinful 
creatures, who (with all our proficiency) would 


still be lost unless God bestow on us His mercy in 
Christ ; — these are some of the difficult realities of 
religious obedience, which we must pursue, and 
which the Apostles in high measure attained, and 
which we may well bless God's holy name, if He 
enables us to make our own. 

Let us then take it for granted, as a truth which 
cannot be gainsaid, that to break with the world, 
and make religion our first concern, is only to 
cease to be children ; and, again, that in conse- 
quence, those Christians who have come to mature 
years, and yet do not even so much as this, are 
" in the presence of the Angels of God" an odious 
and unnatural spectacle, a mockery of Christianity. 
I do not say what such men are in God's sights 
and what 'are their prospects for the next world ; 
for that is a fearful thought, — and we ought to be 
influenced by motives far higher than that mere 
slavish dread of future punishment to which such 
a consideration would lead us. 

But here some one may ask, whether I am not 
speaking severely in urging so many sacrifices at 
the beginning of true Christian obedience. In 
conclusion, then, I observe, in the first place, that 
I have not said a word against the moderate and 
thankful enjoyment of this life's goods, when they 
actually come in our way ; but against the wishing 
earnestly for them, seeking them, and preferring 
them to God's righteousness, which is commonly 
done. Further, I am not excluding from the 


company of Christians all who cannot at once 
make up their minds thus vigorously to reject the 
world, when its goods are dangerous, inexpedient, 
or unsuitable ; but excluding them from the com- 
pany of mature, manly Christians. Doubtless our 
Lord deals gently with us. He has put His two 
Sacraments apart from each other. Baptism, first 
admits us to His favour ; His Holy Supper brings 
us among His perfect ones. He has put from 
fourteen to twenty years between them, in the 
ordinary course of things, that we may have time 
to count the cost, and make our decision calmly. 
Only there must be no standing still, there cannot 
be ; time goes slowly, yet surely, from birth to the 
age of manhood, in like manner, our minds, though 
slowly formed to love Christ, must still be form- 
ing. It is when men are mature in years, and 
yet are " children in understanding," ,then they 
are intolerable, because they have exceeded their 
season, and are out of place. Then it is that 
ambitious thoughts, trifling pursuits and amuse- 
ments, passionate wishes and keen hopes, and the 
love of display, are directly sinful because they 
are by that time deliberate sins. While they were 
children, " they spake as children, understood, 
thought as children ;" but when they became men, 
" it was high time to awake out of sleep ;" and 
"put away childish things." And if they have 
continued children instead of " having their senses 
exercised to discriminate between the excellent 


and the base," alas! what deep repentance must 
be theirs, before they can know what true 
peace is ! — what self-reproach and sharp self- 
discipline, before their eyes can be opened to see 
effectually those truths which are " spiritually dis- 
cerned !" 

So much on the case of those who neglect to 
grow betimes into the hope of their calling. As 
to the young themselves, it is plain that nothing 
I have said can give encouragement to them to 
acquiesce in their present incomplete devotion of 
themselves to God, because it will be as much as 
they can do, even with their best efforts, to make 
their growth of wisdom and of stature keep pace 
with each other. And if there be any one who, 
as thinking the enjoyments of youth must soon 
be relinquished, deliberately resolves to make the 
most of them before the duties of manhood come 
upon him, such an one, in doing so, is rendering 
it impossible for him to give them up, when he is 
called to do so. As for those who allow them- 
selves in what, even in youth, is clearly sinful, — 
the deliberate neglect of prayer, profaneness, riot- 
ous living, or other immorality, — the case of such 
persons has not even entered into my mind, when 
I spoke of youthful thoughtlessness. They, of 
course, have no "inheritance in the kingdom of 
Christ and of God." 

But if there be those among us, and such there 
well may be, who, like the young ruler, " wor- 

VOL. I. D d 


shipping Christ," and "loved" by Him, and 
obeying His commandments from their youth 
up, yet cannot but be " sorrowful " at the thought 
of giving up their pleasant visions, their childish 
idolatries, and their bright hopes of earthly hap- 
piness, such I bid be of good cheer, and take 
courage. What is it your Saviour requires of 
you, more than will also be exacted from you by 
that hard and evil master, who desires your ruin ? 
Christ bids you give up the world ; but will not, 
at any rate, the world soon give up you ? Can 
you keep it, by being its slave? Will not he, 
whose creature of temptation it is, the prince of 
the world, take it from you, whatever he at pre- 
sent promises? What does your Lord require of 
you, but to look at all things as they really are, to 
account them merely as His instruments, and to 
believe that good is good because He wills it, 
that He can bless as easily by hard stone as by 
bread, in the desert as in the fruitful field, if we 
have faith in Him who gives us the true bread 
from heaven ? Daniel and his friends were princes 
of the royal house of David ; they were " chil- 
dren well-favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, cun- 
ning in knowledge, and understanding science ' ;" 
yet they had faith to refuse even the literal 
meat and drink given them, because it was an 
idol's sacrifice, and God sustained them without 

' Dan. i. 4. 


it. For ten days of trial they lived on pulse and 
water; yet "at the end," says the sacred record, 
" their countenances appeared fairer and fatter 
in flesh than all the children which did eat the 
portion of the king's meat." Doubt not, then. 
His power to bring you through any difficulties, 
who gives you the command to encounter them. 
He has showed you the way; He gave up the 
home of His mother Mary to " be about His 
Father's business," and now He but bids you 
take up after Him the cross which He bore for 
you, and "fill up what is wanting of His afflic- 
tions in your flesh." Be not afraid, — it is but a 
pang now and then, and a struggle ; a covenant 
with your eyes, and a fasting in the wilderness, 
some calm habitual watchfulness, and the hearty 
effort to obey, and all will be well. Be not afraid. 
He is most gracious, and will bring you on by 
little and little. He does not show you whither 
He is leading you ; you might be frightened did 
you see the whole prospect at once. Sufficient 
for the day is its own evil. Follow His plan ; look 
not on anxiously ; look down at your present foot- 
ing " lest it be turned out of the way," but specu- 
late not about the future : I can well believe that 
you have hopes now, which you cannot give up, 
and even which support you in your present course. 
Be it so ; whether they will be fulfilled, or not, is 
in His hand. He may be pleased to grant the 
desires of your heart; if so, thank Him for His 


mercy; only be sure, that all will be for your 
highest good, and " as thy days, so shall thy 
strength be. There is none like unto the God of 
Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, 
and in His excellency on the sky. The Eternal 
God is thy refuge, and underneath are the ever- 
lasting arms^" He knows no variableness, neither 
shadow of turning; and when we outgrow our 
childhood, we but approach, however feebly, to His 
likeness, who has no youth nor age, who has no 
passions, no hopes, nor fears, but who loves truth, 
purity, and mercy, and who is supremely blessed, 
because He is supremely holy. 

Lastly, while we thus think of Him, let us not 
forget to be up and doing. Let us beware of in- 
dulging a mere barren faith and love, which dreams 
instead of working, and is fastidious when it should 
be hardy. This is only spiritual childhood in an- 
other form ; — for the Holy Ghost is the Author of 
active good works, and leads us to the observance 
of all lowly deeds of ordinary obedience as the 
most pleasing sacrifice to God. 

' Deut. xxxiii. 25—27. 


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